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

    
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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
Update
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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psytic

Makes total sense to me if im NCsoft looking at Blizzard and Gamigo. Throw it up on Steam buy to play ala Archeage Unchained with a cosmetic cash shop. Suck as much money from it as you can. These re-release have worked for Archeage and WoW already. Call it Classic Unchained City of Heros. Make some money off the initial wave. If it levels off and has a healthy pop it stays. If not oh well they made their investment back on the initial hype wave.

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socontrariwise

You can not legally keep copyright if you don’t enforce it. Registering a trade-mark or re-registering is indeed a critical step to enforce copyright. I don’t get how you can think that “We know NCSoft has the copyright, so this does not affect us” is a legally sound argument.

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MystikkTales

There’s been some dixvussion on contingency plans on Thunderspy with folks from other servers sitting in on things. Even if NCSoft comes after the rogue servers, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. Even if it means having to use Hamachi to play on a server.

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Bryan Correll

I seriously doubt this is a sign that NCSoft is going to go after Homecoming. It’s more likely that this is to shore up licensing agreement(s) for any officially sanctioned servers. Which will involve some sort of payment to NCSoft. Turning a blind eye is one thing, but they aren’t going to give real approval without being compensated.

Techno Wizard
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Techno Wizard

Companies going after their own fans. Good luck with surviving that one, corporations.

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Sarblade

Homecoming team is not that much better than NCsoft. That story was probably just a fabrication to sabotage other nonHC servers even more and gatekeep the community.

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Bruno Brito

Uh…isn’t basically this what Blizzard does? Go after Pservers to keep their IP out of public domain and losing the rights to it? Maybe this is basically that and nothing besided it?

I’m not really knowledgeable about these things to know, but it doesn’t seem that problematic to me.

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socontrariwise

You are spot on.

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Cinaminson

I just can’t help but completely distrust NCSoft. I really hope things will swing to the positive, but I just worry. =/

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Mick the Barbarian

And that’s why I never play NCSoft games anymore. I just don’t trust them.

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Grave Knight

To be fair, you should be completely distrustful of any company, especially AAA game companies.

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Zero_1_Zerum

They’re a big corporation. They’ll send lawyers after Homecoming with a C&D, maybe a lawsuit. Then either they’ll just sit on the City of Heroes IP. Or they’ll come out with an inferior product as a cash grab, hoping to bank on fans’ nostalgia.

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Roger Christie

And they didn’t do that for the year that’s gone by because? And they’ll stamp out the dozens of other servers that pop up since the code is out in the wild how exactly?

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Zero_1_Zerum

Trademark means they have to take legal action against anyone infringing on it, if they want to keep the trademark. Doesn’t matter if they’ve been negotiating for nearly a year. US trademark law ensures that people with trademarks have to fight to keep them.

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Utakata

…or NC could be filing for the Trademark to allow the rogue servers to keep going with conditions attached in the eventual.

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Armsman

IDK – Seems those ‘boys’ should be more scared of MARVEL than NCSoft. ;)