Trion Worlds, publishers of “Rift: Planes of Telara” responded in a filing to the “Rifts” trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Palladium Books. You can view the original Palladium lawsuit filing in my earlier post. [pullshow]I suggest you download that paperwork and take a quick look before reading the Trion response, as the Trion paperwork is essentially a point-for-point refutation of Palladium’s arguments.
Trion responded very aggressively to Palladium’s claims. Foremost among their response is the claim that Palladium has no right to the “Rifts” trademark on video games at all! In fact, Trion intends to challenge the trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Here is the relevant section of the filing.
Trion Worlds is filing petitions to cancel Palladium Books’ trademark registrations for fraud on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Palladium Books cannot seek injunctive relive based on these registrations and has made no showing of any common law trademark rights.
The filing argues that the lack of any “Rifts” video game in the past few years makes the trademark subject to cancellation. The poor showing of the “N-Gage” “Promise of Power” game merits mention several times. Trion Worlds also goes on to directly attack the popularity and value of “Rifts” as an intellectual property.
As time has gone one, [pullthis] Palladium Books’ games have become less relevant, and seem to have waned in popularity and commercial success[/pullthis] (the Main RIFTS book has only sold 250,000 copies in over 20 years on the market;, 45,000 of those were in its first year). Ex. 2. Even its fans bemoan the lack of originality in the RIFTS materials and unwieldy set of rules.
Trion also argues that there are many examples of the word “Rift” in the fantasy and science-fiction world. Examples provided included several fantasy novels with “Rift” or “Rifts” in the title, various movies and other media products (including “Tripping the Rift,” which gave me a chuckle) and a section detailing Raymond E. Feist’s “Riftwar Saga.”
There are several other interesting sections, but one paragraph caught my eye.
The only “games” that Palladium Books has ever produced in any significant numbers are its series of “pen and paper” role-playing game books. These games are played by a small group of players sitting around a table, rolling dice, and talking about what their “characters” are doing. In sharp contrast, MMO games like the R:PoT Game are played online with a computer, feature advanced, realistic graphics and involve the simultaneous interaction of thousands–or even millions– of players. For a comparison of the very different gaming experiences, please see Exhibit 14 (photos) and 15 (YouTube videos). The contrast is striking, and demonstrates that even if both products could broadly be described as “role-playing games” that involve the ubiquitous storytelling element s of inter-dimensional “rifts,” they are only as “related” as ping-pong and basketball, both of which are “games” that involve the use of “balls…”
Make of this argument what you will.
There is simply too much in this document for me to regurgitate, so here is the original document for your examination.
Palladium quickly responded with this filing from Kevin Siembieda.
Mr. Siembieda responds on a point-by-point basis to the Trion filing. Here is Mr. Siembieda’s response to the “waning popularity” contention.
Finally, Trion tries to paint Palladium and me as “has beens” and that no one in the gaming world knows us or pays any attention to us. The fact is, however, that Palladium and RIFTS are extremely well known in the industry and RIFTS® is considered one of the seminal RPGs. We are so well known that in November 2009, Blizzard, the makers of World of Warcraft– the world’s most successful MMORPG in history – flew me in as a special guest to speak to their writers about writing and game design. During the seminar, they asked questions that referenced the tremendous influence RIFTS® and my work have had on today’s videogame designers, as well as asking me why there hasn’t been a Rifts MMORPG yet.
Both of the documents make for interesting reading. I will keep you apprised of any further developments.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer