The hits keep on coming, don't they? I spent much of the weekend wondering how Palladium would respond to the news that the Michigan courts dismissed its lawsuit against Trion Worlds over the name of their new MMO, Rift: Planes of Telera. Palladium, as I'm sure you're aware, publishes the traditional tabletop RPG, Rifts. Now, all of my speculation is for nothing, as Trion has thrown the first punch of Round 2. Read on for the story, and my reactions as a Palladium Books freelancer and Rifts author.
Today, word comes down that Trion has filed a lawsuit in California to challenge the validity of Palladium's trademark for Rifts in the video game market. Trask over at LivingDice.com has done an excellent job of running down the particulars of the suit, so I won't duplicate his effort. Let it suffice to say that Trion is seeking a ruling that their title does not infringe on any of Palladium's properties, plus seeks to strip Palladium of its trademark.
While Trion's first legal actions in defense of its use of "Rift" in a video game title were very broad, this action cuts the myriad of points, accusations, and suggestions by Trion to a single pinpoint. Trion appears to be going after the trademark with ferocity.
So, with the battle rejoined, where does this put Palladium? I see a few potential issues.
- Palladium announced at the outset of these legal troubles they they are in talks with developers of MMO games to finally bring Rifts to video gamers, everywhere. How will these developers view the fact that Palladium's right to use the "Rifts" title in video games is now under fire? It can't be a good thing.
- Palladium also recently announced that they are pursuing Rifts applications for Facebook and the iPhone and other mobile devices. The same question is raised. Will developers still have an interest?
- In general, this new lawsuit certainly puts Palladium even further on the defensive. The powers at the company must now collect their resources and prepare for battle, if not a siege. Trion has the resources to bury Palladium if they can stretch things out long enough.
- And, perhaps most importantly, Palladium seemingly now must fight. Before, one can assume that there was an option to simply not refile the lawsuit and pour resources into trying to support the Rifts video game trademark, but now that is not an option. As a result of this suit, a judge will rule on whether or not Palladium owns the Rifts video game trademark.
- While drawn into this legal fight, what is going on at the Palladium offices? In his most recent press release, company president Kevin Siembieda indicates that nothing has been done. It has definitely hurt productivity, and that needs to turn around if Palladium is going to make it through this. No new product means insufficient income to make this stand.
My best thoughts and wishes are with Palladium through this. It's a long road ahead, to be sure.