BattleTech threatened by Robotech lawsuit

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Harmony Gold are TV producers (and real estate developers, for some reason) based in Los Angeles. They also own the copyright to Robotech, a mecha anime series that’s visually similar to BattleTech, a rival mecha IP. Accordingly, Harmony Gold are suing the developers of the forthcoming BattleTech videogame for copyright infringement.

Looks like you may have to wait for BattleTech - why not try some of the best strategy games on PC in the meanwhile?

Harmony Gold’s court filing is dated March 1, 2017, but has only just been spotted by the BattleTech community. They are suing Piranha Games, the current BattleTech rights-holders; Harebrained Schemes, the developers of the new videogame; and Jordan Weisman, one of the designers of the original BattleTech board game, who is also working on the videogame. Comprehensive.

The story of these rival franchises is complicated, but here's the short version: There were three related Japanese mecha animes in the early 1980s, of which the American Robotech series was an explicit, licensed adaptation. That licensing deal went through before BattleTech began in the form of a 1984 board game.

To the extent that BattleTech involves giant battling mechs and clearly came out after Robotech's source material, it's an imitation. But just how far BattleTech’s spin on the concept infringes on Harmony Gold’s IP has been a bone of contention since at least the 1990s, when the Robotech owners first sued the BattleTech ones. Give it a thousand years and they'll probably still be fighting it out, except with actual mechs.

Here are a couple of comparison images to illustrate Harmony Gold's complaint, grabbed from the court filing. You can find more over on GamePressure.

Even if Harmony Gold have a point, the lawsuit still sticks in the craw from a consumer perspective. As one commenter in the BattleTech forums put it: "it's not like [they're] doing anything with the Robotech IP anyway."

BattleTech is on Steam here and projected to release sometime this year (in light of current story: heh). Ben and I streamed it last month, and rather enjoyed ourselves - here's hoping the lawsuit is resolved quickly.

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svzurich avatarRichard Scott-Jones avatarpanbient avatarRobotech_Master avatarJenks avatarLolssi avatar+3
svzurich Avatar
7
4 Months ago

We've been here before. Those ”infringing designs” are the replacements for the original exact copies of the Super Dimension Fortress Macross designs seen briefly in the first 36 episodes of Robotech. When HG first did lawsuits in the 1990s, the infringing mechs were removed from Battletech and became known as the ”Unseen”. A few years later they returned in the Technical Manuals with the new (current) designs, and HG said nothing until now. Ugh, HG's litigious nature and dubious claim to own the North American rights to Macross has largely kept the later Macross series from coming to America.

Thank Loki for the internet largely allowing fans to ”correct” that situation. Make mine Macross! At least its developers in Japan are actively releasing new animes and keeping it popular and 35+ years.

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Richard Scott-Jones Avatar
73
4 Months ago

Good detail - thank you! Sounds like HG are only doing this because of the traction the new BattleTech game is getting, and the fans stand to lose out. A shame.

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[:NET:] Ronin Avatar
1
4 Months ago

There is a Robotech movie about to go in production, which will no doubt have a game and a few other side items that they want to have that IP protected.

Sure it's been a while since we've seen American Robotech, but thats about to change and they are prepping for it.

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Robotech_Master Avatar
3
4 Months ago

Here are a few more details, complete with quotes from legal documents in question...

https://terrania.us/2017/07/23/harmony-gold-has-filed-suit-over-another-battletech-game/

I've been following this case for some time, and was a little surprised to see it resurface again.

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Lolssi Avatar
350
4 Months ago

"Give it a thousand years and they'll probably still be fighting it out, except with actual mechs." :D

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panbient Avatar
219
4 Months ago

Now THIS (unlike the recent Dion / Fallout 4 kerfuffle) is an actual cash grab.

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Jenks Avatar
346
4 Months ago

Oh boy, again? My favorite mech was Marauder, but it was removed along with a bunch of others because of this crap 20 years ago.

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Cmd_Grizzk_SAH_GWR Avatar
1
4 Months ago

Frankly they can only copyright the mech A: For the -exact- look, so minor changes here and there would legalise the look. B: The specification class name (The ARC-2R bit). If it is exactly the same. Unfortunately a lot of the names Battletech use are common such as Crusader, Wasp, Stinger, Archer, Warhammer, etc. A lot are a type of soldier or weapon or bug. Looking at the names of the battlemechs in the original battletech rules, the only one they can copyright for the name is BattleMaster for being all one word. (Simple solution, call it Battle Master). Simple enough, change the design a little, change the classification name, and make sure the word is spelled out to be unrelated to Battletech. It's a bend in the lawsuit you can't mess about with. 'It looks similar to' is not 'It is exactly the same as'.

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roguebfl Avatar
1
2 Weeks ago

That's mostly due to the fact the humanoid form is not copyright

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