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GrimoireGate: Cleve Blakemore in trademark dispute with impostor Grimoire
People News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 20 September 2014, 18:22:05Tags: Cleveland Mark Blakemore; Golden Era Games; Grimoire (Omniconnection); Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar; Omniconnection
Several months ago, Codex legend Cleveland Mark Blakemore launched a new and exciting phase in the long-running development of his magnum opus, Grimoire. Having finally brought down the number of bugs in the game to a manageable level, he began a countdown, crossing them off one by one. When the last bug was eliminated, the game would enter a final testing phase pending its final release. Unfortunately, it appears that events have conspired to put a hitch in Cleve's plans.
Back in April, the Codex first took notice of a certain game that was in development. Described as a "fast-paced multiplayer FPS combat meets tactical MOBA inspired magic... with wizards!", it appears to have begun development sometime before 2014, but no earlier than late 2012. The developers are an indie modder outfit named Omniconnecton with a somewhat peculiar history. The game's title? Grimoire. Uh oh.
Cleve himself, as well as a number of his fans and followers, immediately informed the folks at Omniconnection of their infringement on his title. Cleve was also advised to file an official trademark for Grimoire. But he did not take the threat of the false Grimoire seriously. It was incredibly obscure, and a Google Search for "Grimoire" made it clear that Cleve's Grimoire was the only Grimoire in town. Surely the folks at Omniconnection would change the name when they realized that. After all, what kind of name is "Grimoire" for an FPS, anyway?
Well, that's not what happened.
Fast forward to September 12th. Omniconnection's impostor Grimoire comes back into the limelight in a big way, with a Kickstarter campaign and Steam Greenlight page. And not only that, it turns out that back in April, they'd filed a trademark of their own for the name "Grimoire". It is unclear whether the trademark was filed before or after they'd been informed of the existence of the original Grimoire, but regardless, they must have been aware of it during the long months it took for the trademark to be finalized.
Although advised that the wisest course might be to ignore these events and let the Kickstarter languish in obscurity, this was a threat the great Neanderthal felt he could not ignore. Submitting his customary $1 pledge to gain access to the Kickstarter's comments section, Cleve declared war on the false Grimoire. Opposing him was one Ryan Morrison, superhero-themed "Video Game Attorney" and Omniconnection's legal representative.
Each side brought in reinforcements. On Cleve's side, the Kodex Kleve Kult lept into action, launching a pro-Blakemore Twitter account (since taken down), a legal defense fund (also taken down), and even a White House petition, not to mention dozens of comments in Cleve's support. Mr. Morrison, meanwhile, no doubt hoping to capitalize on the controversy to assist his clients' fundraising efforts, used his connections to bring in the heavy guns - mainstream media coverage. Namely, an article by Andy Chalk over at PC Gamer. Meanwhile, gaming has-beens luminaries such as Derek Smart, Guido Henkel and Rebecca Heineman stood on the sidelines and laughed.
And that's more or less where we stand today. Realizing that his threats are falling on deaf ears, Cleve has finally committed to seeking legal assistance to block the false Grimoire. What happens now is anyone's guess.
To be honest, I can't endorse Cleve's unsympathetic response to Andy Chalk's attempts to get more information on the controversy. And he had plenty of opportunities to avoid this mess altogether. He could have tried harder to reach a behind-the-scenes settlement. He could have filed that trademark himself. He could have filed an opposition to Omniconnection's trademark. Heck, he could have even just submitted Grimoire to Steam Greenlight all the way back in 2012, and that might well have been enough to prevent Omniconnection's Grimoire from ever existing under that name.
Nevertheless, the situation is clearly unjust. As a member of the RPG Codex, I cannot help but side with the oldschool RPG over the "multiplayer FPS with MOBA elements". And besides, Cleve may be an asshole, but he's our asshole. That being said, for now all we can do is watch as a hilarious new chapter in the interminable Grimoire saga unfolds. Grab your popcorn, gentlemen, for GrimoireGate is upon us.