Assets frozen as Games Workshop and Chapterhouse Studios legal battle continues


The ongoing battle between Games Workshop and Chapterhouse Studios over alleged intellectual property infringements has taken another turn, with Chapterhouse Studios claiming that Games Workshop has ordered their assets frozen ahead of an upcoming court hearing.

The information was first posted on Chapterhouse’s Facebook page, although the announcement — and, it seems, the entire Facebook page — has since been deleted. Chapterhouse Studios’ website, too, appears to be “down for scheduled maintenance”. Fortunately, Bigred over at Bell of Lost Souls was able to save the text of the Facebook announcement:

Our assets have been frozen.

Yes, thats pretty much the issue. Many of you may know that Games Workshop has been in a legal battle with us for almost 4 years now.. maybe its 5…

Anyways, they have asked the courts to freeze our assets and this has happened, this happened early September, not long after I posted the photos of the last set of products that were being produced and almost ready to ship.

What does this mean? #1 we have no means to ship or produce or pay for anything… and I mean anything, internet, phone, gas, nothing. We cant use or accept funds (well technically we can accept but I wont do that without a means to ship out new orders).

#2 the demon lines are sitting at the casters, waiting to be shipped but not able to be shipped to us. Even if they were shipped to me, I couldnt ship them out since they are technically “assets” and I am not allowed to ship them out.

#3 the company infrastructure, email, website, is pretty much frozen.

I am flying out (which GW allowed us to buy a ticket) to chicago next week to step in front of the courts and plead my case to have assets released and do business as normal until the appeal is addressed.

For those of you who are understandably upset, I am sorry, this has been a long and hard road and many of you have stood by me. I wish it was better but its been very stressful and now I have learned that its not only my company at risk but my personal assets and home are being threatened as well now.

Ill do my best to keep you all apprised.

And to be clear, no orders were taken after I found about about the freeze mid september.
Any orders that have issues were due to customers not putting in correct addresses and a new shipment needing to be sent (and couldnt due to the freeze).
Or lost orders in the postal system.


In the grim darkness of the Chicago court system

The last ruling in this ongoing battle was in June 2013, when Chapterhouse Studios fairly convincingly defeated Games Workshop in the Chicago District Court.

At that time, the jury dismissed two thirds of Games Workshop’s allegations of copyright infringement, and ordered Chapterhouse to pay $25,000 in damages for the remaining infringements (instead of the $400,000 they were asking for). Presumably, Games Workshop’s move to have the studio’s assets frozen comes about as a result of that amount not being paid.

A statement released by Chapterhouse’s laywers at that time claimed that Chapterhouse “could continue to make and sell over a hundred products without fear of copyright infringement. The jury also confirmed that Chapterhouse could continue to use most of Games Workshop’s asserted trademarks when selling compatible parts, including all nine of Games Workshop’s registered trademarks.”

“Together with the summary judgment wins, the jury’s verdict confirmed Chapterhouse can continue to make and sell 111 products that Games Workshop hoped to block using copyright laws, and can continue to use 104 words and phrases that Games Workshop said were trademarked. ”

In an earlier 2012 decision, Games Workshop’s attempt to assert ownership over skulls was denied. The judge in that case ruled that “a pile of skulls is not copyrightable” and that “if it were, GW potentially would have viable claims against countless movies, paintings, or drawings.”

Games Workshop to wind back on legal cases?

In his resignation announcement, Games Workshop’s CEO Tom Kirby admitted that the company had spent “an indecent amount” of money on legal battles.

“The argument is that we have to do this or we will, bit by bit, lose everything that we hold dear, everything that keeps the business going,” said Kirby.

“Our crops will wither, our children will die piteous deaths and the sun will be swept from the sky. But is it true?”

Whether or not this latest move represents a renewal of legal attacks by Games Workshop or simply a financial demand for money outstanding is yet to be seen.

We’ll hopefully know more about the ongoing legal battle soon, but without either side apparently willing to publicly share information, it may be a while.

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