Thursday, 28 November 2013

HERO QUEST maybe not returning after all

Just a few days into its campaign to resurrect the classic 1989 board game Hero Quest, Gamezone Miniatures have run afoul of IP laws and had the project suspended.



So far the only official word is that the Kickstarter is the subject of a copyright dispute, with no word given on what parties are involved. The most likely possibility is that Hasbro, who own the Hero Quest brand name and the original game rights, were not impressed with Gamezone's claim that they would be shipping the game outside of Spain and other countries where they still have the licence. According to Gamezone, they had been in talks with Hasbro about officially licencing the game to other territories (presumably for a fee); Gamezone saying they could ship anywhere in the world effectively meant they were saying this was not required and the game could be delivered regardless of talks with Hasbro, which Hasbro may have taken a dim view of.

An alternative possibility is that the famously litigious-even-when-they-don't-have-a-leg-to-stand-on Games Workshop decided to get involved. Whilst Hero Quest was created and owned by MB (owned by Hasbro), Games Workshop created the lore for the original game and manufactured the miniatures, some of which were drawn from its Warhammer IP. The only Warhammer-specific monsters in the original game were Fimirs and Chaos Knights, neither of which were apparently going to feature in the new version; all of the other creatures were 'standard' elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins, undead, gargoyles etc. Removing the few (and always very vague) references to the Warhammer world from the setting and plot description would also be very easy.

Even if Gamezone's project is unable to continue, hopefully the fact that people were willing to back it to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars sight unseen might mean that the project could be continued by Hasbro themselves. More news as it appears.

9 comments:

dwarf74 said...

Weirdly enough, this is GOOD news. As I mentioned in the last post, the legal ground here is waaay to shaky.

The other alternative was this happening after the Kickstarter closed, and therefore after all the backers paid.

Folkenlared said...

It seems the obstacle was the IP holder in the US. Not Hasbro or GW. And it also seems both parties will reach some kind of deal, as far as the spanish company is saying

Folkenlared said...

Moon Designs is the company that has the US rights

Bjorn said...

According to a mail sent out by GameZone, they were in negotiation with Moon Design and they sent a C&D letter. I have no idea who this Moon Design company is, or why they should have any rights to HeroQuest.

Roland Boshnack said...

http://www.fancueva.com/.../comunicado-oficial-de.../ has the details, if in Spanish. Google Translate does a decent job of turning it to English. Basically, this has nothing to do with Hasbro or Games Workshop. In fact, it has very little to do with the board game! It actually centers around the Glorantha RPG Heroquest, currently published by Moon Design, which has no relation to the boardgame.

The story from Gamezone is that they were in talks with Moon Design to distribute worldwide, and that Danger Room had filed a C&D but held it in suspension as part of the negotiation. Gamezone is claiming that, for reasons unknown, the C&D went into effect early Thanksgiving, possibly due to an error. They are trying to get in touch with Moon Design to get this resolved.

At this time, this is a trademark issue, not copyright. That Moon Design has maintained the Heroquest trademark and Hasbro and Games Workshop never challenged it argues that those two giants had legally abandoned the trademark, allowing someone else to step in and claim it. This leaves Gamezone in a tricky situation: they can change the name of the boardgame and avoid the trademark issue entirely, but then they lose the brand recognition the product requires. They can continue to wait on Moon Design's negotiations, but then they lose their manufacturing slots and might not have this ready for next year's Christmas season.

I strongly suspect that the two companies will come to an agreement, but the US holidays are a tough time to try to get legal matters resolved.

Deadstop said...

Moon Design took up the *title* HeroQuest for a role-playing game after the trademark lapsed. They don't own the game, just the name as a game title.

Psychman said...

Moon Design's issue appears to be related to concerns that GameZone do not appear to have permission from the copyright-holder (I think? my knowledge of legal terminology is not good) to produce this derivative work / reproduction of the original game. As the company that hold those rights is Hasbro, a small company like Moon Design would be at significant risk should Hasbro contest the publication of the game. If gamezone show proof of permission to Moon Design, they would be willing to grant a license to use their Trademark, "HeroQuest". Any costs for the trademark license would still have to be negotiated.

alguien said...

Well, in any event, I hope they resolve the lingering TM or copyright disputes. Heroquest was the first RPG I ever played as a kid, and I recently went out and replenished my old boardgame set through eBay. I'd love to see a revamp of the game!

Anonymous said...

I have a suggestion.. Alter the game entirely. New name, Rewrite the rules,items,characters, and monsters.Give it a new everything but simuliar theme... Copyright it and BAM no worries about dealing with hasbro at all or any other franchise.... yeah? Why pay someone royalities when you clearly have the abiltiy to create something new. Just an idea...