While we were off having fun at GDC this week we learned that one of our lawyers put the smack down on a talented individual, Emilio Lopez, who created some cool fan art as a gift for his cousin for Christmas sent him a cease-and-desist letter.
Oops! (See here for the story)
I just wanted to share with you an email I sent to the folks at Planet Gears of War this evening:
Unfortunately there are some unscrupulous folks out there creating works based on our intellectual property and attempting to sell them without a license from us. If we don't defend ourselves from these situations our trademarks ultimately become undefendable so our lawyers are doing what they feel they have to do to protect our rights. Unfortunately in this case an innocent party got caught in the middle and for that we apologize. It probably won't be the last time it happens but we'll try to do the right thing when it does. Our lawyers chase down a surprisingly large number of not-so-innocent people and, in this case, I think the commercial-quality elaborate packaging he created, which looked very authentic, was the reason for this coming to their attention. Emilio did an awesome job on his gift. The truly-unscrupulous thing that happens in a situation like this is people go and take these kinds of pictures and put them up on online auction sites attempting to collect money from folks for articles they've never actually had in their possession in the first place. I know this sounds and improbably but this happens all the time.Ugh. Our lawyers are trying to do their job and protect our trademarks but I guess they didn't realize this wasn't a commercial project and they fired off a standard form letter. It is unfortunate when this happens but the problem with trademarks is you HAVE to protect them and Emilio's work looks so amazingly professional, right down to a cool package!, that they probably failed to notice this was a one-off gift for non-commercial use. What we need to do is come up with some sort of permission letter for things like these so that we're properly protecting our future commercial rights but not stopping people from doing cool fan art like this.
On behalf of Epic I apologize to Emilio and anyone who was offended by this.