First, long time no see guys - even if the three of you weren't here when I last haunted the place (when dinosaurs walked the Earth, TacCmd was still EpiComms and Specialist Games had their own official forums).
I do believe I can give a bit of an info here, having been one of the people on the wrong end of the Space Hulk fangame debacle in 2008. Apologies if I get a bit worked up over this but... well, that has been something of a personal matter for me too not long ago.
Far as Games Workshop's legal department's knowledge is concerned THQ's license covers, as the legalese goes, the entire Warhammer 40.000 IP
. That means it does
include sub-IPs such as Epic, Space Hulk, Inquisitor etc. In entirety
. Further, this license is exclusive
- in other words, GW may not license any other party to produce any video games based on the Warhammer 40.000 universe as long as THQ's license lasts.
THQ is either unable or unwilling to sub-license it to fans - or at least it has been when Teardown
attempted to contact them regarding it, despite that our proposal at the time was basically an offer of giving them the entire finished product (with all the source code etc) for free, no strings attached.
It is quite possible the former is the case here, or at least that's the impression we got from another e-mail we received when we contacted GW, specifically one Erik Mogensen, whose position at the time was Manager, Licensing and Acquired Rights, Games Workshop Limited
. His response regarding the license included the following statement:
Any Space Hulk computer game that is released must be published by THQ. Hypothetically, if they decided they wanted to publish your game then we would have no issue with it – although they would need to submit the game to us for approval as with all their other games of course.
Substitute "Space Hulk" for "Epic" and that's pretty much what you can expect in response to your enquiries.
The best solution would be to create a brand-free engine with similar mechanics and create your own unique IP to go with it. GW can copyright rules text
, but it cannot copyright the actual mechanics
that the text is merely a representation of.
Yes, if they see anything that appears
within a mile of similarity they will
try to harrass you. Careful control over your response, though, won't give them a leg to stand on.
They tried to pull that with us in regards to Alien Assault
- aka "the game that was this || close to being released as Space Hulk".
We gave them a very polite, very detailed answer that just so happened to deconstruct their every argument down into nothing but the b/s it was, such as their statement that we were in violation of their trademarks for referring to the troops in our game as "Marines" (to which we responded they might own "Space Marines" but the Orbital Marine Corps are ours, thankyouverymuch) and kindly suggesting that they stop hunting vaguely perceived trademark and copyright violations where there are none and focus on more practical things such as countering digital piracy of their publications and dealing with actual blatant violations of their IP/trademarks like, oh, the "Chaos Insignia" used in relation to a number of Michael Moorcock's literary works and their spin-off media (don't correct me on that last item, I know exactly what I'm saying, if you don't get it then it's your own fault