Tim Langdell and EDGE: Part Two

By: Derek Yu

On: June 9th, 2009

Tim Langdell

Now that Classics Week and E3 are over, I’d like to come back to Tim Langdell for a moment, because I personally consider it to be not only a fascinating topic, but also an important one that raises a lot of issues important to the community, including intellectual property and the role of the IGDA. A lot has come up since my last post, and unfortunately, it’s spread relatively thinly across a number of interesting discussions. I’m going to do my best to summarize and provide links to source material so that people can have a better understanding of what’s going on. I make no pretensions about my personal feelings on the matter, but please consider that anything that I say for which I do not explicitly provide a source are my own opinions. I will try to make it as clear as possible when they are.

Also, apologies to the readers who come here looking for news on new games to play and are uninterested in this story. There will be some very soon, and I’ll hide the rest of the post under a jump so that you can easily and quickly move on.

A Quick Recap:

Edge

1. Fingergaming posts an article revealing that the popular, award-winning iPhone game Edge has been removed due to a legal issue with Langdell. Mobigame’s David Papazian suggests that Langdell was also responsible for Namco’s Soul Edge being renamed to Soul Blade and then Soul Calibur in the United States. (Source)

2. Simon Carless posts an article on GameSetWatch in which he suggests that Langdell has a habit of engaging in lawsuits over his trademark on the word “Edge.” Carless also notes that Langdell’s Wikipedia entry, which is oddly detailed, has been mostly edited by a single user, Cheridavis, who may or may not be Cheri Langdell, Tim’s wife. Cheridavis had denied being related to Langdell, and had insisted that she (he?) was writing an unnamed book on the game industry and was posting information she discovered through her research of the book. Carless mentions at the end of his article that because of Langdell’s history of trademark abuse it’s unfortunate that he has recently been accepted to the board of directors for the IGDA.

3. Simon’s article is removed, for unknown reasons, but has been quoted on various other websites and forums. (Source)

4. Thanks to a tip from mklee, I read Simon’s article, follow his links, and decide to make a post about it myself here on TIGSource.

5. Langdell’s Wikipedia page is cleaned up and is now under neutrality and notability disputes.

6. Both the IGDA and the “Game Attorney,” Tom Buscaglia, respond, with Tom responding on his own behalf. The IGDA claims that it cannot take any action with Langdell regarding the legal dispute. Buscaglia calls Simon’s article a “hatchet job” and implies that Carless has reason to take down Langdell because of a rivalry between Game Developer Magazine and Edge Magazine. He suggests that, in order to keep his trademark, Langdell must actively protect it by pursuing legal action against Mobigame.

(Note: Buscaglia has since apologized for his “snide” remarks about Carless and insists that his implication of a rivalry was intended as a joke. He has also edited his post to remove the latter. In this author’s opinion, there was no indication of a joke in the original post.)

Tim Langdell and David Papazian Speak

Gamasutra

Probably the most important thing that has happened the past week is that Langdell and Papazian have both spoken up regarding the controversy, in the comments section of Stephen Jacobs’s Gamasutra blog. Jacobs has been involved with the IGDA for at least 4 years and once worked with Langdell to try and establish an organization for game educators and researchers.

It’s probably best if you read the entire discussion, starting with Jacobs’s article. But here are the basic claims by both sides:

1. Langdell claims that EDGE Games informed Apple of the trademark violation, whereupon Apple sent a standardized notice to Mobigame. At that point, Langdell claims that Mobigame pulled the app voluntarily.

2. Langdell claims that it is, in fact, Mobigame that is bullying EDGE Games over the trademark. He also asserts that Mobigame started the “flame war” with the intention of causing him embarrassment.

3. Langdell claims that he has never sued anyone over EDGE trademarks, or ever started any litigation over the trademarks. Furthermore, he claims that “EDGE has never engaged in anything other than entirely legitimate practices to protect its trademarks.”

4. Langdell asserts that he has personally produced all of the several hundred games EDGE Games has developed or produced since 1979, and that every other statement he has made regarding his own accomplishments are entirely true.

(Note: Langdell, even when asked directly, has seemingly made no attempt to verify any of this, or even provide a simple list of games he has produced. Update: But if you go to the EDGE Games website and click “Videogames” at the top, you can see a list.)

5. Papazian responds to Langdell by saying that he has not made any comments regarding the dispute since the Fingergaming article and has no prior connection to either Simon Carless or Owen Good (who penned a Kotaku article about Langdell). He regards Langdell’s accusation that Mobigame is trying to cause Langdell embarrassment as a lie.

6. Papazian corroborates Langdell’s claim that Edge was voluntarily pulled.

7. Papazian claims that Mobigame offered to change the name to “EDGY” whereupon Langdell refused the offer and proceeded to register the trademark “EDGY”. Papazian also asserts that Langdell holds the trademarks “MIRROR’S SPORE” and “SOUL SPORE,” suggesting a connection to EA’s games Mirror’s Edge and Spore, and Namco’s Soul Edge.

(Note: Edge Games does indeed own those trademarks. You can look them up yourself here [EDGY] and here [MIRROR’S SPORE AND SOULSPORE].)

8. Papazian claims that Langdell has never given proof of his connection to Edge Magazine, or any proof that he has actively used the mark in recent years. He claims that the only person he has spoken to from EDGE Games has been Langdell.

On Langdell

Mirrors

Although I make no claims about the legality of anything that Langdell has done, it’s obvious to me that there is something very underhanded with the way that he operates. At best, he bends the truth. For one thing, there’s no reason not to believe what David Papazian has said, and, in fact, there is a lot of evidence to corroborate his claims (e.g. the trademarks Langdell has registered and the fact that there really is no evidence of Papazian or his colleagues commenting on the issue between the Fingergaming article and the Gamasutra blog post).

There are also many unproven, yet eyebrow-raising, reasons to be skeptical of what Langdell is saying. For one thing, there’s the whole dispute over his Wikipedia entry and whether he was personally involved. There’s also the “Mirrors a game from Edge” advertisement on the EDGE Games website, which seems purposefully misleading. In fact, if you use the Wayback Machine to look at previous incarnations of Langdell’s site, you’ll see that he’s pulled similar stunts throughout the years. My favorite is the EDGE Games jacket, which has a photo of a jacket with “EDGE Games” written on it in a red font. (Thanks to raiten for pointing this out.)

Plus, as the story has been spread, more personal anecdotes from people who have worked with Langdell have popped up, and they are terrible. Read this, this, and this, if you’re interested. It’s gruesome stuff.

Is anyone defending Langdell? Aside from Buscaglia, there appears to be a single anonymous person calling themselves either “Joe” or “mopius” who claims to be friends with Tim and is posting gems such as this on various blogs and forums:

Not only is Tim an “indie” from the 80’s, but he’s the real deal. He’s not some punk who just made a game in some “Easy Instant Game Maker 2000 Pro Edition” in two minutes and decided to call himself a professional game developer. No, he has actual experience in the field and has more games (actual games, things sold at retail) credited to him than you’ve had hot dinners.

Because of the Wikipedia dispute, there is suspicion that “Joe” is Langdell himself, but this is unfounded.

Plus, this. Seriously.

To date, Langdell has tenuous associations with and/or has claimed creative ownership of the following brands:

1. Edge Magazine

2. Soul Edge

3. Edge (iPhone game)

4. Mirror’s Edge

5. Edge of Extinction (Cybernet Systems v. Edge Games)

6. Edge Computers

7. EdgeGamers (game community)

8. The Edge (movie)

9. Edge (Malibu Comics character)

10. Koala Lumpur: Journey to the Edge

But it’s not obvious (to me, anyway) what Tim Langdell has actually created, aside from trouble for the various people who have had the misfortune of dealing with him and his trademark during its 30-odd years of existence. My hope is that, by helping to bring out the story, real creators can avoid him (and others like him) in the future. I don’t believe Langdell is a smart man, because a lot of his stunts are poorly managed and straight-up bald-faced – the only way he can succeed is if people are not knowledgeable.

So know your legal rights! As far as I know, trademark strength is not dependent on who “calls it” first, but on how you use it. I would love to hear a lawyer (who is not Buscaglia) comment on this matter.

Regarding the IGDA

IGDA

The IGDA has taken the stance of “this is none of our business.” I disagree that it’s none of their business, and I strongly disapprove of their impotence regarding this issue. They are enabling people like Langdell when they should be helping to protect developers from them. Game developer/blogger Craig Stern sums up the situation very well. You can also see that the IGDA does have some rules regarding ethical behavior on the board and what they can do about it (scroll down).

You can sign a petition asking for Langdell to be expelled from the IGDA here.

Update: I’ve collected information regarding Tim Langdell and Edge Games here for easy reference.

  • Cait Reid

    Well hello there, Tom. CRAZY ASS WEBSITE, eh? Get the fuck off then.

    No, really. I’m sick of your passive-aggressive bullshit. We have LOADS of evidence. But you won’t believe it, and you’re CONVINCED that we’re somehow trying to ruin what shreds of dignity Tim might still be desperately clinging to. Is it all lies? Is it? PROVE IT’S LIES THEN.

    Prove it and we’ll disappear. Poof.

    Otherwise, go away.

  • avoidobject

    so tom is joe (and now bob, lol memory fail) then. that explains everything

  • JustKidding

    >just give this up already because
    >you’re not going to change anything

    If the only upshot is that Langdell thinks twice before acting like a complete c**t in the future, then some good has come of this.

  • tom

    you think he gives a shit? oh no the angry kids on the internet don’t like him, oh my god you’re real scary. if he does read this he’ll probably laugh at how ridiculous this whole thing is like I am right now.

    also play “calt reid” off keyboard cat lol, really keep crying about it, you’ll change a lot. this is just stupid..

  • tom

    May 30, 2009
    Tim Langdell, his Trademark and the IGDA
    Filed under: Thoughts and Rants — Tom B @ 12:57 pm

    This is a response to a comment by Tim SHea in my IGDA Rant story that was as follows:

    *********************
    Curious to know what you think of your fellow board member, Tim Langdell:

    http://www.mygameloft.net/igda-board-member-tim-langdell-igf-mobile-nominee-edge-and-a-sorry-trademark-tale/

    IMO, this is just shameful. The last time Langdell developed a game worth playing Madonna still had all her original body parts.

    ********************

    First, it is a totally punkassed remark about someone who has been making games since before you old enough to choke your chicken! Maybe you think that everyone in the industry over 40 should just walk out onto he ice flows…I mean really. Totally cheap shot there Max! At least he has game credits. So perhaps you should back off on and snide remarks.

    *******************

    I am speaking now for myself and NOT on behalf of the IGDA.

    I have to say that this hatchet jobs aimed at Tim L. and at the IGDA have not done what any responsible journalist would do and ask Tim L. for his side of this issue (and yes I mean you Simon!).

    This dispute relates to a company enforcing its properly registered Trademark (See below). While you or I may not agree with those laws related to Trademarks, they are what they are. Moreover, the IGDA represents the individuals who make games, not the companies that make them. So, although no one is more committed to independent developers than I am, this is a legal dispute between two companies regarding an alleged Trademark infringement. So, while I anyone’s effort to fight for the little guy, these matters are for the court of law, not for a court of public opinion.

    I think this matter is obviously a bit more complex that Simon’s slanted article presented it (Keep in mind that Simon is the editor of Gamasutra and associated with Game Developer Magazine that competes directly with Edge Magazine, which Tim L. is associated with!).

    As someone who has litigated intellectual property cases, I can tell you that these cases are never as simple as they might seem to a lay person, especially when one only has access to one side of the story. I suspect that if you had spend 20 odd years building a Trademark to brand your studio and games, and paid to have a Trademark registered, you might also feel compelled to enforce your trade name. BTW, if you do not enforce your Trademark, you may lose it. So you may want to also take that into account in your analysis!

    This is hardly a matter for the IGDA either…Board members do not lose their legal rights when elected to the Board. I personally do not think that lobbying the IGDA to intervene or even take sides in a legitimate legal disputes not the right approach, even if one of the parties to that dispute is a member of the BoD!. If Tim’s position is correct (and I do not have enough information to determine that issue one way of the other) you are recommending that the IGDA support a party who has infringed a legal and enforceable Trademark. That’s just nutty!

    I do not see that as a viable position for the organization under any circumstances. In any case, I do not see how Tim L. vigorously enforcing his legal rights as contrary to the code of ethics in any way.

    Again, I am speaking now for myself and NOT on behalf of the IGDA or as an IGDA Board member. But as me, Tom Buscaglia, The Game Attorney.

    Tom B

    ************’
    Word Mark EDGE
    Goods and Services IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: computer game software, computer game programs, video game software, video game programs, computer game software that may be downloaded from a global computer network, video game software that may be downloaded from a global computer network, computer game cartridges to be used in computer game machines adapted for use with television receivers, video game cartridges, computers, computer accessories, plug-in boards, peripheral devices, flash cards, set-top boxes, cable modems, mobile game devices, handheld game devices, video game consoles, video game assessories, video game peripherals, augmented reality games, virtual reality games, games designed for use with mobile entertainment devices. FIRST USE: 19840601. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19840601
    Standard Characters Claimed
    Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
    Serial Number 78807479
    Filing Date February 5, 2006
    Current Filing Basis 1A
    Original Filing Basis 1A
    Owner (APPLICANT) EDGE GAMES, INC. CORPORATION 530 SOUTH LAKE AVENUE #171 PASADENA CALIFORNIA 91101
    Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
    Prior Registrations 1853705;2219837;7502940
    Type of Mark TRADEMARK
    Register PRINCIPAL
    Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

    ——————————————————————————–

  • tom

    I can’t bear being a fat, old has-been. Even though my blog says I’m all done talking, I just can’t seem to shut up! Please, please pay attention to me! I want so badly to be relevant in the game industry. Oh, and your ability to masturbate is extremely important to me.

  • Esteban

    what if Tom Buscaglia was in fact the attorney of Langdell?

  • tom

    First, it is a totally punkassed remark about someone who has been making games since before you old enough to choke your chicken! Maybe you think that everyone in the industry over 40 should just walk out onto he ice flows…I mean really. Totally cheap shot there Max! At least he has game credits. So perhaps you should back off on and snide remarks.

  • TMR

    Ah, perhaps you’d like to clarify just what credits Tim has then, Tom? The list on his own site seems to be more about what he’s published rather than had creative input into (and some of the titles listed were either incomplete or simply not released) so which did he actually design or program?

  • Esteban
  • Lailoken

    Has anyone else seen King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters? Tim keeps reminding me of Billy Mitchell.

  • Esteban
  • Max

    Wow, litigious much?

  • Max

    Did anyone else notice that Langdell’s company is “The Edge Interactive Media” until 2008, when it’s suddenly “Edge Games”? How can there be any issue with the trademark if “Edge Games” has never actually sold anything?

  • SEH

    @Esteban

    Awesome finds! This is still getting more entertaining.

  • Blaise

    I sent him a facebook message… Can I get sued for that?

    Copied and pasted:

    Video Games
    Between Tim Langdell and You

    Blaise Canfield
    Today at 11:38pm
    Why do you hate video games?

    Your message has been sent.

  • Synnah

    Excellent find, Esteban!

    A large number of his claims have been dismissed ‘with prejudice’. And he’s currently disputing with Sony over ‘Playstation Edge’? Christ; good luck with that one! His claim against Namco is also on there, but oddly, the dispute is against the mark ‘Soulblade’, and it was dismissed. What happened with Soul Edge, then? Was it settled out of court?

  • Anon

    Just out of interest, his LinkedIn profile says that his education was at UCL, but doesn’t go into any more detail. If he holds a doctorate, what is it in, and did he do his Bachelor’s degree at the same place he did his doctorate?

    Sounds a bit suss.

  • PoV

    News Flash. Trademark for “Aquariuma” awarded to Edge Games. Seeks damages from developer of PC game with similar name.

    :P

  • tom

    The corporation that supposedly owns the brand “Edge Games” is The Edge Interactive Media, Inc, a company based in NY, NY. Their website is http://www.edgeip.com.

    The site is a student recruitment site (no links to Edge Games). EDge Interactive recruits students to form “a team of developers, programmers and beta testers to create the proper skill set for a given project.” I wonder how Tim received his “Special Thanks” on God of War for providing testers?

    It’s possible this is how Edge Games will develop any of its future properties, and how it will avoid paying any of the developers. Students, after all, are the least likely to have the legal resources to defend themselves from predatory parasites like Tim Langdell. The recruitment site is based in Ontario, CN.

  • Tim Langdell

    I have some ideas for games, what do you guys think?

    Edge of Edgecraftâ„¢
    Edge Warsâ„¢
    Edge Partyâ„¢
    Final Edgeâ„¢
    Half Edgeâ„¢
    Metal Gear Edgeâ„¢
    Super Edgeâ„¢
    Edge – Edge of Timeâ„¢
    Gran Edgeâ„¢
    System Edgeâ„¢
    Grand Theft Edgeâ„¢
    Golden Edgeâ„¢
    Edge of Warâ„¢
    Edge of Dutyâ„¢
    Edge Kartâ„¢

    I’ve trademarked them all so don’t go stealing my ideas!

  • John Waters

    Okay, that Galactic EDGE stuff did it for me. The guy must be a copyright vampire. He hasn’t had a game developed in 15 years. His wikipedia entry is “curated” by cheridavis who may (not might) be Cheri Davis Langdell. How low can you get? But i guess it’s the legal system’s fault for being absurdly stupid over the copyright business. I guess the solution would be Tim Langdell’s idea (above). Decentralize and deluge the EDGE word with 100-200 minigames. Then, next time he goes to court, the judge can ask him, “Mr. Langdell, why do you choose to sue Mr. X but not these 200 previous attempts at blatant copyright infringement?”.
    On another note, compare Mr. Langdell’s attitude with this guy (from Wikipedia):

    Regardless of the legal disagreements surrounding Lovecraft’s works, Lovecraft himself was extremely generous with his own works and actively encouraged others to borrow ideas from his stories, particularly with regard to his Cthulhu mythos. He actively encouraged other writers to reference his creations, such as the Necronomicon, Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth. After his death, many writers have contributed stories and enriched the shared mythology of the Cthulhu Mythos, as well as making numerous references to his work.

    Open source in the 1920’s.

  • hardware

    http://myhardwear.com/sitex/content_pe001.jpg

    nsfw but something Tim could use

  • OmgCakez

    :3 i get to say the last word….