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Subject: Proposed Fred Settlement: Will it kill Steam? rss

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Mark Crane
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Here is the text of Fred's proposed settlement with Wallace. I'm wondering if it is accepted or mandated, if it will kill of the game Steam and expansions for it. Also, what is ROEW?:

Settlement agreement points between FRED and Martin Wallace (MW)



1) MW owes FRED $9,617 for the undesigned/unsubmitted “third” game. To settle this debt:


a) FRED will not pay royalties for Brass or for ROEW to MW until they total $9,617, recognizing that in the case of ROEW there are advance royalties already paid by FRED which will first be credited against future royalties as well.

b) FRED will collect 100% of all royalties (directly from Mayfair) due to MW for Steam and all Steam expansions until such time as a) above and this section b) total $9,617, after which time,

per 2a) below, 75% of all such royalties related to Steam and its expansions will be paid to FRED, going forward, for an infinite period of time.

c) MW agrees to give FRED, outright, the overall rights—ideas, concepts, rules, etc. to Brass and the so-called “Brass 2” expansion as submitted to Kosmos and Pegasus.


2) MW breached the 3/7/05 Eagle Agreement by signing a contract with Mayfair for Steam. To settle this:



a) Warfrog/Treefrog and MW will immediately cease and desist the development and/or publishing and/or sale of any Steam expansions. Whilst Warfrog/Treefrog is specifically prohibited from publishing and selling any Steam expansions, for any other expansions that have already been or may be developed and/or published by other individuals, companies or any other entities, MW agrees to allow 75% of all royalties which may be due to him on all of these (directly from Mayfair or other publishers where or as applicable) to be paid directly to FRED, going forward, for an infinite period of time.

b) MW will issue a statement, which FRED will draft, which will immediately be posted on: 1) the Warfrog website front page, where it will remain for the next 5 years, and 2) the Boardgame News website; and 3) the BGG forums related to Steam, Age of Steam, ROEW, RRT, etc., and 4)

wherever else that FRED deems appropriate to post it. This statement will generally apologize

to FRED for MW inappropriately signing the contract for Steam with Mayfair and for very

inappropriately and unjustifiably demeaning and discrediting FRED with inaccurate public

statements and postings over the course of the past year.



3) MW has generally not helped, nor even supported, the development of ROEW. To settle this:



a) MW agrees to willingly and actively monitor, on an everyday basis, the ROEW BGG forum and to answer any and all rules-related and other questions about the advanced version of that game—i.e. the rules written by MW himself for the ROEW game.

b) MW will issue a statement, drafted by FRED, to be posted on the BGG ROEW forum, which credits Sean Brown and the FRED team with the entire development of the ROEW “basic” game and makes it clear that MW’s work on the ROEW game was confined to the advanced game and its rules.


 
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David Hoffman
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That seems a bit . . . broad. I can't imagine it would be accepted as-is.
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Mark Crane
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It seems like they want to control all steam expansion royalties.

Here's the thing--legally, couldn't Joe Schmoe walk off the street, make a game about deliving milk called "Age of Cream" that uses the exact same mechanics as Age of Steam and sell it without breaking the law?

Because according to the USPTO, game mechanisms can't be patented.
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It blew my mind that Martin would publish an expansion to Steam before the resolution to all this.

If he's truly innocent I would have to believe he would cease and desist until such a time that he and FRED came to a resolution point.
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Richard Pardoe
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Isn't that the settlement offer posted at FRED's lawsuit website? Scrolling down, it appears MW rejects it in his response of 10 Sep 2009 (found on the same page as the settlement offer).

Edit: ROEW appears to be Railways of England and Wales
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Mark Crane
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Yes, sorry for not linking. MW rejects it and says it would be cheaper to go to court. And it's interesting that MW's expansion for Steam replicates "Railways of England and Europe." I wouldn't have known that had FRED not posted it.
 
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Eugene van der Pijll
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craniac wrote:
Also, what is ROEW?

Railways of England and Wales?

craniac wrote:
Here's the thing--legally, couldn't Joe Schmoe walk off the street, make a game about deliving milk called "Age of Cream" that uses the exact same mechanics as Age of Steam and sell it without breaking the law?

Not under that name, I believe. That would come awfully close to the point of confusion to the trademarked name Age of Steam. But Joe Schmoe could publish it as Dairy Wars, and nobody could do anything about that, since it's not against copyright law, and there's no contract that says he can't.

Whether Wallace could do the same depends on the terms of the contracts he signed with various other companies.
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craniac wrote:
..MW rejects it and says it would be cheaper to go to court...


Martin is lucky to have affordable legal representation. I wish him best of luck.
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Mark Crane
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pijll wrote:
craniac wrote:
Also, what is ROEW?

Railways of England and Wales?

craniac wrote:
Here's the thing--legally, couldn't Joe Schmoe walk off the street, make a game about deliving milk called "Age of Cream" that uses the exact same mechanics as Age of Steam and sell it without breaking the law?

Not under that name, I believe. That would come awfully close to the point of confusion to the trademarked name Age of Steam. But Joe Schmoe could publish it as Dairy Wars, and nobody could do anything about that, since it's not against copyright law, and there's no contract that says he can't.

Whether Wallace could do the same depends on the terms of the contracts he signed with various other companies.


Ah, that makes sense.

And thanks for the acronym clarification. I kept trying to think of games that began with "Return of.." Elven Warriors? Electric WonderWomen?
 
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Mark Crane
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I could have sworn I ran across something on the USPTO site that said that *mechanisms* couldn't be patented, but of course now I can't find it. This post suggests that rules can be rewritten, and that it is analogous to cookbooks and recipes:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2503010#2503010

Quote:
Reiner recently lost a case against someone publishing a book containing some of his games (including Pickomino). As I understand it, the games were credited to him, but the rules were rewritten.
The judge rules that the intellectual contents of the game rules lacked copyright protection.

Of course, this is in Germany and it was just the rules, but it's a worrying result (for game designers).

You can read about it at boardgamenews
http://www.boardgamenews.com/index.php/boardgamenews/comment...


I'm at the point where I'm ready to take up a collection for MW so he can pay FRED the $10k and we don't have to hear about the entire thing again. And yes, I realize I am a hypocrite.

Here's the bit I was looking for, but it's regarding copyright, not patents:

Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form.

Material prepared in connection with a game may be subject to copyright if it contains a sufficient amount of literary or pictorial expression. For example, the text matter describing the rules of the game or the pictorial matter appearing on the gameboard or container may be registrable.

The back side of this form letter describes the options for registering copyrightable portions of games. If your game includes any written element, such as instructions or directions, we recommend that you apply to register it as a literary work. Doing so will allow you to register all copyrightable parts of the game, including any pictorial elements. When the copyrightable elements of the game consist predominantly of pictorial matter, you should apply to register it as a work of the visual arts.



http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html
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Jack Neal
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craniac wrote:

I'm at the point where I'm ready to take up a collection for MW so he can pay FRED the $10k and we don't have to hear about the entire thing again. And yes, I realize I am a hypocrite.


From what I understand, patent has nothing to do with it. This is a breach of contract. Whoever is right or wrong is yet to be determined.

From my lowly perch, I think FRED is in the right on this. If they got screwed and didn't receive payment, they have a right to go after him. However, the settlement seems pretty harsh and I don't see MW bending.

Giving MW $10,000 or E10,000? I disagree with this on principle even though if it would get rid of the lawsuit.
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Gordon Watson
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I have no idea as to who is right/wrong or who did what to whom in all this (although I did read the email chains that were briefly linked to from a BGG thread recently - which seems to have dissappeared now). However, even if MW is completely in the wrong, the conditions under 2,b and section 3 of the statement above look childishly and unnecessarily vindictive and spiteful on FRED's part.

To the extent that if they enforce them I'm not sure I would want to buy their products in future - once the business aspects/monies have been sorted out in this case then please guys bury the hatchett. Do FRED really want to prolong this sorry business by forcing the website of one of the hobbies leading, and popular, designers to publicly grovel for the next 5 years? That could end up being somewhat counter-productive.
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Jack Neal
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craniac wrote:
I'm just talking out my nose. As far as breach of contract is concerned, there's a lot of he said/she said going on, and nobody looks that pristine when it is all said and done, unfortunately.


Agreed.

I was reading the material yesterday and asking myself, "Do I really want to design board games even part time if I have to worry about this kind of thing?"

Considering how fragile the hobby is anyways and how low the profits are for anyone, I'm surprised they didn't go with an arbitrator. Mutually assured destruction, legal-style.
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I think I read in the AoS-rules that mister Bohrer's father was a patent lawyer. I guess he knows what his doing.robot
 
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Mark Crane
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I don't think Bohrer has a role in the breach of contract dispute.
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James Palmer
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Whoever is at fault, I think in the long run this whole thing will cost FRED more than the $10,000 it gains by winning the lawsuit. I am surprised by the lack of professionalism from both sides.
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Jack Neal
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domus_ludorum wrote:
However, even if MW is completely in the wrong, the conditions under 2,b and section 3 of the statement above look childishly and unnecessarily vindictive and spiteful on FRED's part.


The only thing I can think of is they knew MW wouldn't settle so they are starting "high". If there is further bartering, they can come down from that position.

But it did come across as heavy handed, but, like a lot of people have noted, there's been muck all over the joint.
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craniac wrote:
Here is the text of Fred's proposed settlement with Wallace. I'm wondering if it is accepted or mandated, if it will kill of the game Steam and expansions for it. Also, what is ROEW?:

Settlement agreement points between FRED and Martin Wallace (MW)



1) MW owes FRED $9,617 for the undesigned/unsubmitted “third” game. To settle this debt:


a) FRED will not pay royalties for Brass or for ROEW to MW until they total $9,617, recognizing that in the case of ROEW there are advance royalties already paid by FRED which will first be credited against future royalties as well.

b) FRED will collect 100% of all royalties (directly from Mayfair) due to MW for Steam and all Steam expansions until such time as a) above and this section b) total $9,617, after which time,

per 2a) below, 75% of all such royalties related to Steam and its expansions will be paid to FRED, going forward, for an infinite period of time.

c) MW agrees to give FRED, outright, the overall rights—ideas, concepts, rules, etc. to Brass and the so-called “Brass 2” expansion as submitted to Kosmos and Pegasus.


2) MW breached the 3/7/05 Eagle Agreement by signing a contract with Mayfair for Steam. To settle this:



a) Warfrog/Treefrog and MW will immediately cease and desist the development and/or publishing and/or sale of any Steam expansions. Whilst Warfrog/Treefrog is specifically prohibited from publishing and selling any Steam expansions, for any other expansions that have already been or may be developed and/or published by other individuals, companies or any other entities, MW agrees to allow 75% of all royalties which may be due to him on all of these (directly from Mayfair or other publishers where or as applicable) to be paid directly to FRED, going forward, for an infinite period of time.

b) MW will issue a statement, which FRED will draft, which will immediately be posted on: 1) the Warfrog website front page, where it will remain for the next 5 years, and 2) the Boardgame News website; and 3) the BGG forums related to Steam, Age of Steam, ROEW, RRT, etc., and 4)

wherever else that FRED deems appropriate to post it. This statement will generally apologize

to FRED for MW inappropriately signing the contract for Steam with Mayfair and for very

inappropriately and unjustifiably demeaning and discrediting FRED with inaccurate public

statements and postings over the course of the past year.



3) MW has generally not helped, nor even supported, the development of ROEW. To settle this:



a) MW agrees to willingly and actively monitor, on an everyday basis, the ROEW BGG forum and to answer any and all rules-related and other questions about the advanced version of that game—i.e. the rules written by MW himself for the ROEW game.

b) MW will issue a statement, drafted by FRED, to be posted on the BGG ROEW forum, which credits Sean Brown and the FRED team with the entire development of the ROEW “basic” game and makes it clear that MW’s work on the ROEW game was confined to the advanced game and its rules.





Looks like FRED forgot to include that Martin has to clean their offices every week twice.

WHAT WERE FRED THINKING?! I knew the £ was weak but did not realise in the US petty $9,617 buys you a slave for life! Gawd!
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Obviously there is a real conflict between these two parties. But, in a way, this is a theatrical creation that serves to get some PR work done.

When real negotiating is conducted, it is done behind closed doors, with both parties agreeing to keep quiet until something comes through, or the whole thing fails. Negotiating in public isn't done to get an agreement, it is done to win over a viewing audience. That audience, fellow BGGers is us. This latest brouhaha on the web is more an instrument of persuasion than it is one of legitimate negotiation.

Very, very unprofessional.

As to Jakk's point, I'd have to agree. If this is how the industry is run, I am eternally grateful for my daytime job and will happily put any game design aspirations in a trunk. With the clasp locked.

And buried in the backyard.
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Mark Crane
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BillJ1967 wrote:
Obviously there is a real conflict between these two parties. But, in a way, this is a theatrical creation that serves to get some PR work done.

When real negotiating is conducted, it is done behind closed doors, with both parties agreeing to keep quiet until something comes through, or the whole thing fails. Negotiating in public isn't done to get an agreement, it is done to win over a viewing audience. That audience, fellow BGGers is us. This latest brouhaha on the web is more an instrument of persuasion than it is one of legitimate negotiation.

Very, very unprofessional.

As to Jakk's point, I'd have to agree. If this is how the industry is run, I am eternally grateful for my daytime job and will happily put any game design aspirations in a trunk. With the clasp locked.

And buried in the backyard.


Unless, of course, you wanted to release them for free, like the open source software model!
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BillJ1967 wrote:


As to Jakk's point, I'd have to agree. If this is how the industry is run, I am eternally grateful for my daytime job and will happily put any game design aspirations in a trunk. With the clasp locked.

And buried in the backyard.


I think because the margins are so thin, people will fight tooth and nail to get what they think they deserve. The sizes of these companies and designers number in the single digits and as such, ego also weighs much more heavily than would otherwise.

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craniac wrote:

c) MW agrees to give FRED, outright, the overall rights—ideas, concepts, rules, etc. to Brass and the so-called “Brass 2” expansion as submitted to Kosmos and Pegasus.


You have to really misunderstand the limits of intellectual property law to make a demand like that. I suppose that FRED are even expecting Martin to supply his own vaseline?

They don't look much like a list of proposals for settlement from a party that actually wants to settle, IMNSHO. They look like a set of demands made by a party who *want* to be told where to file such a list.
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SJBenoist wrote:
I don't think I'd call my derivative "Age of Cream", that would just be asking for litigation.


Damn right I would sue! I don't want my series of adult movies to be associated with some boardgame!
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If presented with a similar settlement package, I would have to respectfully refer FRED to the case of Arkell v. Pressdram.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_Eye#Litigation
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craniac wrote:

Unless, of course, you wanted to release them for free, like the open source software model!


Some of us do. Some of us would still like to see some sort of token of accomplishment. Merely creating something print and play is not a badge of distinction.

All things being equal, I wish more of it would go that way. With the ready availability of rules, pictures, etc., things are virtually there as it is - sans law.
 
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