Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Author Says Games Workshop Is Trying To Own The Term "Space Marine"

Illustration for article titled Author Says Games Workshop Is Trying To Own The Term Space Marine

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".

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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.

Obviously, being a single human and not a wealthy company, Hogarth can't fight the claim in court, and as a result Spots The Space Marine has been yanked from Amazon (interestingly, Amazon didn't have to do this, but willingly elected to at the request of Games Workshop).

Advertisement

"I want there to be a world where Heinlein and E.E. Smith's space marines can live alongside mine and everyone else's", she writes, "and no one has the hubris to think that they can own a fundamental genre trope and deny it to everyone else.".

In the Future, All Space Marines Will Be Warhammer 40K Space Marines [MCAH Online, via Boing Boing]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

When I read or hear 'Space Marine', I think Warhammer. It was certainly the Warhammer 40K universe that introduce the term to me, so that is likely why. But even though that was some 20 years ago, and I have been influenced by many mediums since, Space Marine is still Warhammer.

When I read an article about Mass Effect and see Shepard referred to as a 'Space Marine', I think Warhammer. Same when Aliens is tagged with the term, regardless to the fact that Aliens was released before Warhammer 4oK universe was realised (not way before, but still before).

I think you ask anyone with a little history in any form of Sci-Fi, and they will have related the tag to something. For some, a Space Marine is a Warhammer term. For others, its whatever introduced them to the term.

The thing with Warhammer 40K and the use of the term is that it is more actively used that in other media. You could probably not know at all that the marines in Aliens are called Space Marines after watching the movie. But it's hard to avoid that those elite in the Warhammer universe are called Space Marines. Google it, and see what comes listed. Warhammer and Space Marine are almost synonymous.

As ubiquitous as it it might seem from a certain point of view, from another angle I can actually see why Games Workshop are doing this. It's not difficult for a person to link Space Marine with Warhammer, it's actually seems to be difficult not to link them.

I don't think this guy should have to change his book title though either. But I do understand. And I don't think it's really that absurd.