NCsoft follows up City of Heroes code copyright filing with fresh trademark application

When the light

Do you folks remember last summer when we learned that NCsoft had filed copyright documentation for the City of Heroes game code? The June revelation came just a few months after the MMO community learned a group of players had been leaked the game’s source code and run a secret CoH server for six years. The handing of that code over to the community at large, and the subsequent opening of multiple functioning rogue CoH servers, allowed the entire community to leap back into a much-loved MMORPG thought dead. Notably, NCsoft took no legal action.

Today, we can add some more kindling to the speculation fire, as MMO Culture noticed that NCsoft filed a new trademark application for the long-sunsetted game just a few weeks ago. That website points out that players have tried and failed to legally acquire the game from the Korean megacorp for many years, but as we’ve been covering for the last nine (!) months, there’s quite a bit more to it than that.

In April of last year, after the code had spilled into the open, we confirmed that representatives of the Titan Network were in direct negotiations with NCsoft for some sort of legal version of the game, negotiations that continued largely behind closed doors all year, through the joining of Homecoming with those negotiations in August and then the hand-off from Titan Network to the Homecoming group in September. Homecoming, the largest batch of CoH servers currently running, made multiple moves over 2019 to buff up its legitimacy, like barring copyright-infringing characters, blocking RMT, and discussing what a licensed server might look like – all of which led players to assume that a positive outcome for the negotiations is all but assured and it’s just a matter of when.

The unmolested unofficial return of City of Heroes was a huge story in 2019, taking our award for biggest MMO surprise of the year and spurring on our best trend pick too.

Source: MMO Culture
After publication, we got a note from MOP reader Cinaminson, who pointed out that Reddit is speculating that the filing means NCsoft plans to come after Homecoming and the other rogue servers. We don’t have any reason to think that, and in fact quite a lot of reasons to think just the opposite. We also note that when NCsoft filed the copyright notice for the game’s code this past summer, Homecoming explicitly said it didn’t affect it, as the group was “never under the impression that NCsoft didn’t own the copyright” to the game.
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