M.C.A. Hogarth e-book blocked, reinstated by Amazon after Games Workshop trademark claim
M.C.A. Hogarth is a furry artist and writer whose works have appeared in several publications. A guest of honor at Midwest FurFest 2003 and 2009, her short story In the Line of Duty was the winner of the 2003 Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction. Recently, Hogarth's e-novel Spots the Space Marine was the target of a claim of trademark violation by Games Workshop, developer and publisher of tabletop wargames Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000, and The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game.
It was on December 13 that Hogarth received an e-mail from online retailer Amazon.com, informing her that they had stopped selling Spots the Space Marine. The explanation given centred around the use of the phrase "space marine". Although an archetype of science fiction dating back to 1932, Games Workshop holds trademarks on the phrase in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe.
Hogarth elaborated on her blog, explaining that Games Workshop's "space marine" trademark in the US and UK only covers games and miniatures. Its European trademark, however, includes "Class 16", covering
Paper, cardboard and goods made from these materials, not included in other classes; printed matter; bookbinding material; photographs; stationery; adhesives for stationery or household purposes; artists’ materials; paint brushes; typewriters and office requisites (except furniture); instructional and teaching material (except apparatus); plastic materials for packaging (not included in other classes); playing cards; printers’ type; printing blocks
Games Workshop used the scope of their European trademark to raise a complaint with Amazon Kindle Publishing UK, which caused Amazon Kindle Publishing (US) to block sales of the e-book in every country it was being offered. This was despite the facts that Games Workshop's European trademark cannot be enforced in the United States, and the European trademark's Class 16 does not cover e-books.
Hogarth blogged about the situation, and the story gained publicity through newspapers and social networking websites, including Twitter. Games Workshop was labelled a "trademark bully" and harshly criticized by many people, including science-fiction authors Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi. Amazon was also critised for choosing to block the e-book.
On February 8, Hogarth announced that Amazon had decided to reinstate Spots the Space Marine. She expressed her gratitude to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who had provided support in the fight to get her e-book unblocked.