There is a new ruling in the impressive saga of NCSoft (City of Heroes fame) v Marvel (of Spider-man fame).
For those unfamiliar with the case, Marvel Comics sued NCSoft, the makers of the popular City of Heroes MMORPG game because the game character-design engine allows users to create their own versions of existing copyright (and trade marked) heroes such as Wolverine, Hulk and Spider-man. I have played the game and I must admit that I have seen some large-looking green giants with purple pants called “Hu1k”, or imaginatively, “Big Angry Man”. The claim by Marvel is that these acts of infringement by players is the responsibility of the game makers.
Needless to say, the case has angered many fans. Does Marvel really mean that people cannot dress in super-hero costumes any more? No, Marvel’s argument is that they don’t care about Halloween costumes; but if a company has had a great idea for a game that sure beats the games licensed by Marvel, then they will find a way to sue that company.
Anyway, Marvel created characters in city of heroes that resembled their own characters, and then sued City of Heroes using the characters that they had created as evidence. Now the game seems to be up and NCSoft are alleging that these practices have led to loss of goodwill and cancelled accounts. It is now up to Marvel to prove that this is wrong.
Off to dust my old Batman costume.