It's about as ubiquitous a term in science fiction—and video games—as "starship", "lightspeed" and "datapad", but an author at the centre of a copyright struggle claims that Games Workshop, the company behind the Warhammer 40K franchise, is trying to take legal possession of the term "space marine".
Author MCA Hogarth, who wrote the book "Spots The Space Marine", says she has been served with a trademark infringement notice from Games Workshop, on the grounds that the company's "recent entrée into the e-book market gives them the common law trademark for the term 'space marine' in all formats."
If this is indeed Games Workshop's intent—and we're yet to confirm it is—then wow. Yes, the term "Space Marine" is a fundamental one in the Warhammer 40K universe, to the point we got a video game recently called simply Space Marine, but if Games Workshop thinks it can somehow muscle in and take over the term, then boy.
For one, they did not invent the term. It was widely-used in science-fiction for decades before the invention of Warhammer 40K, dating back to the 1930s and having been employed by sci-fi greats such as Robert A. Heinlein in his Starship Troopers series.
Secondly, it's not as though it's the only property to regularly use the term, with everything from Aliens to Doom (where you play as a member of the United States Space Marine Corps) asking you to assume the role of a Space Marine. Not to mention StarCraft, though that's an altogether trickier proposition.