In some ways, when you step back and look at the Palladium Books and Trion Worlds battle over the right to name a game "Rift," it's a little silly. It's a game, after all. Does it really matter? In a world where children are starving and wars are raging and BP is trying to give Mother Earth a Jheri Curl, is this really something that we want to fight about, hold grudges over, and for which will be spent untold amounts of money? Really?
But, hey, that's the world in which we live. For better or worse, however we got here and whatever has come before, this is now a knock-down, drag out fight that could potentially rule the fortunes of dozens or hundreds of people. In the end, there's a chance that someone is going to wish they hadn't tied on their gloves.
We've had several developments in this story, many of which are just amazing to behold. Thanks to the detective work of livingdice.com, we have our hands on a number of court documents detailing Palladium's beef with Trion, Trion's response to Palladium, and then Palladium's rebuttal to Trion's response to Palladium. Confused yet? All told, there are in excess of 50 pages of legalese through which to swim, but luckily, I've already read them all so you just have to enjoy the highlights as I detail them below. You'll laugh. You'll cringe. You'll roll your eyes. It's like Thanksgiving with the in-laws, and it's right here on Jason Richards cannot be trusted. Read on for the greatness.
Just one more time, let me reiterate a couple of things. First, while I am a longtime contracted author for Palladium, and have written two sourcebooks and contributed in many other ways to the Rifts RPG, in no way are they my employer. I do have a Non-Disclosure Agreement with Palladium, but I have no inside knowledge whatsoever on these issues; I just read the Internet like anyone else. And, finally, I'm no lawyer, so I'm tackling this from the worst possible angle: a layman with a blog. This should be fun.
The award for biggest waste of time goes to: Trion!
Maybe the single largest issue raised in any of these many, many documents is the argument over whether or not Michigan is the appropriate venue for this legal standoff. Mostly, I find this booooorrrring.
The issue seems to stand as this: Trion believes that the whole case should be thrown out because the Michigan court does not have any right to judge them, a California company. Palladium argues that Trion is, by virtue of their national and global marketing and customer base, which naturally includes Michigan, coming into Palladium's house. I suppose that Palladium could have filed in California, but then I wonder if Trion wouldn't have moved to dismiss based on the fact that Palladium Books is not a California company. The whole thing seems like an attempt to throw out as many lines as possible and make Palladium chase them all. Probably not a bad strategy.
Trion would have won this category several deep, by the way. I'm sure it's all just part of the game, but there are some terribly smalls nits that are being picked, some of them so far off base and irrelevant that it's hard to imagine why they were included to begin with. But, again, I'm sure that's all just part of the game.
The award for most embarrassing argument goes to: Palladium!
Why is the Internet always the bane of Palladium's existence? It has bitten them so many times, I've lost count. In this case, Palladium turns to the almighty Interweb in two regards.
First, Palladium uses several posts from its message boards by Palladium fans to show that the use of the word "Rift" as the game title can cause confusion, making people think that this game has something to do with Palladium Books and its flagship RPG, Rifts. But, in a number of these cases, the postings actually did the opposite, showing that there was little to no confusion, a fact that I'm sure Trion's lawyers delighted in including with their rebuttal.
For example, Palladium used this as an example of a fan that was confused by the use of the word "Rift" in the title of Trion's MMO:
"Rifts was the first thing I thought of too..."Sounds like there is some confusion, right? Well, what the posting actually said was:
"Rifts was the first thing I thought of too. But so what? It's not the first time a name reminds us of another rpg product. And that's all it was - one name reminiscent of another."Ouch! That stings. Here's another one. Palladium submitted:
"Yeah, I looked at this because I thought to myself, 'Sweet Jebus, it's about time Rifts made an MMO.'"But, what what was actually posted was:
"Yeah, I looked at this because I thought to myself, 'Sweet Jebus, it's about time Rifts made an MMO.' And then I saw it, and I was like, damn another fantasy MMO clone. How dull."Really, Palladium's legal team? Really? Taking part of a quote out of context using an ellipsis is the Internet equivalent to crossing your fingers behind your back when fibbing to teacher about who put the tack in Johnny's chair. It's the lowest, trollish behavior in which one can engage using the written word. In fact, I'm going to have to refer you to your own forum rules and ask that you be banned from participation for flame baiting or personal attack or failing to "play nice." You should have seen this one coming.
Just briefly, the second issue here is that Palladium holds up the use of the Internet as perhaps their top marketing tool, to which Trion responds, saying that www.palladiumbooks.com hosted portions about the company and the Rifts RPG which had not been updated in nine or five years, respectively. What Palladium said was true, of course, in that they do use the web as their top marketing tool, but Trion's response had to have hit a nerve.
The award for funniest line goes to: Trion!
This is just a quick one that I'll let speak for itself. Trion states that while both a traditional RPG and a MMORPG might both be vaguely related, the two actually do not resemble one another. To illustrate, their statement says:
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 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,"Nice burn, Trion. You also win the "quotation marks" award as well as the "end a sentence in a comma" award; they really did write that just as I reproduced it, above.
More to come tomorrow
Wow, this is going long, so I'll continue with Part 2, tomorrow. Be sure to look ahead, as I'll be awarding in the following categories:
- Most hilarious reversal
- Most damning point
- Biggest card not yet played
Tell a friend, and I'll be back with more, tomorrow.