Edge or Edgy Revisited: Mobigame dealt devastating legal losses, Langdell vindicated.

By Andrew Stengler April 17, 2023

Readers may recall the 2009 dispute between veteran game company EDGE Games and the French start up Mobigame over who has the right to use the trademark 'EDGE." Mobigame's David Papazian aggressively argued that Langdell was a bully, or, worse, a "trademark troll." The dispute has finally been decided in EDGE Games' favor with Langdell being proved to have acted ethically and never to have acted as a trademark troll [article updated].



h/t The Escapist


The gaming news media back in 2009 largely sided with Papazian, causing a lot of harm to Langdell's reputation and that of his company, EDGE Games. But now a new March 2023 legal decision at the highest level of appeal in the UK has ruled that Langdell and his company were in the right all along, that Mobigame has no right to use the mark EDGE, and thus Langdell is not and never was a "trademark troll." Worse for Mobigame, even its home country's French Trademark Office (INPI) has also just ruled that Langdell was in the right and Papazian was in the wrong. Mobigame is stripped of any claim to the mark "EDGE" in what must be a bitter blow to Papazian who had been relentlessly attacking EDGE Games and Langdell for the past 14 years.

"a 14-year smear campaign against Langdell and his company EDGE, all based on false statements about Langdell invented by Papazian"

We recently had the opportunity to discuss this historic win with Langdell, who supplied us with some key documents about Papazian's failed lawsuit against him. According to Langdell, the dispute with Mobigame started in early 2009 when Mobigame launched its iPhone game that it named 'Edge,' and EDGE Games asked Mobigame to stop using its trademark. At first, Papazian acknowledged that Langdell's company was the rightful owner of the EDGE mark and requested Langdell's permission to use the mark (view: Papazian Email). Langdell politely declined to give Papazian permission, and they mutually agreed Mobigame would change the name of its game to "Edgy." Deal done, dispute ended? No, Papazian had other plans and decided to renege on the deal cut with Langdell and instead chose to launch into what has ended up being a 14-year smear campaign against Langdell and his company EDGE, all based on false statements about Langdell invented by Papazian and his followers.

Early reporting by The Escapist accurately reported that Papazian admitted to reneging on the agreement to switch to Edgy. The Escapist also gave one of the first sensible reports about what a trademark owner needs to do in order to protect their mark: they discussed how what Langdell was doing was entirely professional and ethical, and only what trademark law requires a mark owner to do (view: Edge or Edgy: The Clash of Two Game Makers - Update). The Escapist consulted a legal expert who confirmed that it is perfectly legitimate for a company to trademark a common word (think Apple, Windows, etc.) but to protect the mark trademark law requires the company to monitor the market to ensure no other company uses the mark or so called formative versions of it ("something EDGE" or "EDGE something").

"Langdell has a legitimate trademark, he did what was required of him to protect that trademark"

As The Escapist observed, "... the entire case seems more or less cut-and-dried: Langdell has a legitimate trademark, he did what was required of him to protect that trademark and he made very reasonable attempts to accommodate [Mobigame] ... Yet somehow it got turned around: Langdell, ostensibly the victim, has been utterly vilified by the gaming media." The author of that piece, Andy Chalk, went on to investigate Papazian's claims that Langdell's company had not produced any games since the 1980s and found that EDGE Games had been continually producing games and was currently producing games. Chalk concluded, "The company [EDGE Games] is producing product, therefore the trademark is sound."

At the time in 2009, the Independent Game Developer's Association's own in-house attorney, Tom Buscalia, chimed in (view: Tom Buscalia's blog). Buscalia had strong words for those attacking Langdell. He rightly called the games media's attack on Langdell a "hatchet job" and accused the games press of not bothering to do proper due diligence on trademark law and the facts of the dispute before writing their articles condemning Langdell. He made clear that everything Langdell had done is only what is required of a company legitimately defending its trademark rights, and that Langdell had not done anything unethical, "... recommending that the IGDA support a party [Mobigame] who has infringed a legal and enforceable Trademark. That's just nutty! I do not see how Tim L. vigorously enforcing his legal rights as contrary to the code of ethics [of the IGDA] in any way."

Behind the scenes, not reported by the games media, the legal disputes between Mobigame and Langdell's EDGE Games have seen Langdell win over and over again, proving that both The Escapist and Tom Buscalia called it correctly in 2009 when they stated Langdell was entirely in the right. After Langdell rejected Papazian's request to have permission to use EDGE Games' "EDGE" trademark, Papazian split his time between defaming Langdell in public and suing EDGE Games in private (while falsely painting Langdell and his company as the litigious party). It started with Papazian filing to register the mark "EDGE" for games in Mobigame's name in 2009 (view: Mobigame's filing). Langdell's company filed a legitimate objection to that based on its over 30 years of use of the same mark for the same goods.

"USPTO ruled in favor of EDGE Games, denying Mobigame the right to register EDGE"

Papazian managed to delay the US Trademark Office's proceedings over and again, with the dispute finally being decided ten years later in 2019 with the USPTO ruling in favor of EDGE Games and denying Mobigame the right to register the mark EDGE (view: USPTO ruling against Mobigame). Following his loss, Papazian retaliated by filing two further attempts to register the mark EDGE in his name in the U.S. (neither of which have any prospect of succeeding of course), and fired off a barrage of legal actions against Langdell's company EDGE Games in the US, UK, France and Europe.

Papazian's attacks on Langdell in the UK in 2020 were in the form of two cancellation proceedings seeking to invalidate EDGE Games' UK registrations for the marks EDGE and EDGE GAMES and an attack on EDGE Games' French registrations. What made Papazian's attacks on Langdell in the UK bizarre from the start was that Mobigame did not challenge EDGE Games' third UK EDGE mark dating from 2008 since of course that mark was registered before Mobigame published its first game in 2009. Undaunted by the absurdity of his claim that by selling copies of his game titled "Edge" for a short period in 2009-2012 meant that he, Papazian, was now the true legitimate owner of the mark "EDGE," Mobigame entered into a two-year battle with EDGE Games before the UK Trademark Office.

"UK Appeal judge rules in favor of EDGE Games against Mobigame; Langdell found not to be a 'trademark troll'"

In those UK proceedings from 2020 to 2022, the UK trademark authorities carefully researched EDGE Games' use of the marks EDGE and EDGE GAMES from 1984 to the current day and found that Langdell had been legitimately using his EDGE marks at all times. The UKIPO (as its known) also found that all rights in EDGE Games' had been legitimately passed from one company owned by Langdell to another over the decades; that EDGE Games did start in 1981 initially as 'Softek,' and has then continued to the present day under ownership by various of Langdell's companies. By contrast, the UKIPO could not confirm that Mobigame had built up any legitimate ownership in the mark "Edge" at all and noted that in any event sales of the Mobigame game had all but ceased a decade or more ago. The result was the UKIPO resoundingly ruled in Langdell's favor against Papazian in its August 2022 Decision (view: UKIPO 2022 Decision).

Undaunted again by his devastating loss, Papazian arrogantly filed an appeal of the UKIPO Decision trying to claim the UKIPO trademark judge didn't know what she was talking about. The result was a resounding second loss by Papazian as Thomas Mitcheson K.C. as the judge of the appeal ruled that Langdell and his company EDGE had been in the right all along, and Papazian and his Mobigame never did have any legitimate legal right to use the mark EDGE for games (view: The 2023 Decision). The Appeal Judge also found, as did the UKIPO, that Langdell had been using legitimately his EDGE marks at all times since 1984 and was entirely within his right to require Mobigame to cease use of EDGE's mark. Langdell was thus ruled to have acted entirely ethically and not to be in any sense a "trademark troll" as Papazian had repeatedly falsed accused Langdell of being.

Things only got worse for Papazian as his attack on Langdell in France also backfired, and the French Trademark Office also ruled in favor of Langdell in France, too (view: the 2023 French Decision). Once again, the French authorities determined that Papazian had built up no significant good will in the mark EDGE that could come close to challenging Langdell's almost 40 years of use of the mark for games in Europe. Papazian may think he was in the right in 2009 when he started the cyber bullying defamation attack on Langdell and his company EDGE, but in the courts and trademark tribunals he just can't find a single person who actually knows about trademark law who agrees with him.

"EA dispute clarified: Court did not find Langdell had committed fraud or abandoned use of his marks"

Langdell also clarified the confusing situation about the court case with Electronic Arts in 2010. On its face it seemed straight forward to many people: EA sued EDGE Games and won with the court ordering the cancellation of EDGE Games' trademarks. But that isn't an accurate picture of what happened, as Langdell explains: first, it was a jury trial case so the judge was not going to be deciding who was right. The case was also never litigated on its merits, and in fact the judge never heard EDGE Games' side of the dispute. "Our attorneys made a huge error right at the start of the proceedings by filing a motion for preliminary injuction," reports Langdell. "EA presented the judge with a highly biased view of the alleged facts that included the falsehoods spread by Papazian about me being a trademark troll, and the judge just accepted what was being said without giving us a chance to respond." Indy Gamer News was able to check the court record and found that Langdell is right, the hearing lasted only about 15 minutes with EDGE not being permitted to say much. "The result was an order that included the judge expressing opinions that were not based on any true facts before him," added Langdell.

"Most people misunderstand the outcome, falsely thinking EDGE Games lost on all counts, but that isn't true," Langdell continued. He went on to explain that EA had sued to cancel some of EDGE's trademarks on the grounds that Langdell had either committed fraud in obtaining them or had lost the right to them by abandoning use of the mark. But the settlement between EA and EDGE was on the condition that neither Langdell nor EDGE be considered to have committed fraud, and on the condition EDGE Games was not found to have abandoned use of its EDGE marks. What this means is that when you carefully read the final outcome of the court case, EA didn't actually win: while the parties agreed EDGE would abandon a few of their US trademark registrations, it was on condition that the court was not cancelling them because of fraud or abandonment--the only two grounds a mark can be cancelled on.

This unusual result came about because it was what is called a "stipulated judgment" which meant the final court order was actually written by Langdell and EA's attorneys, not by the judge. The deal EDGE cut with EA was that it would voluntarily abandon a few of its registrations but only after it had already filed to register a new registration for 'EDGE GAMES.' Because in the deal, and in the court order, EDGE was retaining all common law rights in its EDGE marks, this meant that EDGE would still have at least one US trademark registration at all times since 1994 with no gap in owning a valid US EDGE registration. "Most people missed this point," Langdell added, "not realizing that since trademark rights are determined by common law rights (so called "goodwill") and not by registrations, EDGE didn't actually lose anything of value in the EA settlement. And in a real sense, EDGE did not lose the fight insofar as it came out of it unscathed, still owning all the important US rights in EDGE that it always had owned. To this day, EDGE still owns all its EDGE and EDGE GAMES registrations in the UK, France, Germany, EU, and so on, so it never did lose "all of its registrations" as some, like Papazian, falsely stated.

Added Langdell, "The action with EA would have hit problems going ahead anyway since the 2008 Federal Court ruling in our case with Velocity Micro (which Velocity lost) had already decided EDGE Games does legitimately own all of its EDGE marks, had never committed fraud to obtain them, and had never abandoned them. So the court in the EA case had no jurisdiction to consider the same issues all over again."

"EDGE releases 5 new games; Mobigame hasn't released a new game in a decade"

The irony is not lost on us at Indy Gamer News that while Papazian has been falsely claiming Langdell hasn't produced any games since the 1980s -- which anyone bothering to Google it would quickly find is false -- it is Papazian who has not produced a new game in over a decade. His Mobigame company that he proclaimed was famous, so famous it should be given priority over a veteran game company like EDGE Games, only ever produced 6 games between 2009 and around 2012. And its game titled 'Edge' essentially stopped selling in 2013 according to the sales data Papazian supplied to the various trademark authorities in support of his attacks on Langdell. By contrast, EDGE Games has published more than 5 games in the past couple of years and is clearly still actively producing new games. With the resurgence of interest in 1980s games, and older gaming platforms like the Sinclair Spectrum and Commodore C64/Amiga, EDGE is getting in on the action of making its older games available again, too.

As to Papazian's false claims that Langdell was a "trademark troll," we can now confirm that this was never true. For Papazian to make this claim he had to argue that Langdell's company had never produced a game since the 1980s and that since then all Langdell had done was sue people for their use of the mark EDGE, demanding money from them for the use. The problem for Papazian -- and the reason all those years ago Buscalia admonished the game press for not bothering to do due diligence -- is that clearly Langdell's company has used its mark at all times since 1984. And there is no evidence whatsoever of Langdell suing people who use the mark EDGE demanding money from them.

As The Escapist reported back in 2009, when Papazian himself was asked to justify this accusation he pointed to the fact that EDGE Games' attorneys had warned Papazian that if he continued to use the mark EDGE he could be exposed to a lawsuit that could lead to having to pay EDGE costs and damages. As Escapist confirmed, Papazian then admitted that Langdell later withdrew that threat as EDGE Games stayed focused on trying to achieve an amicable settlement. In short, Langdell may be diligent at trying to protect his mark, which involves stating to others the consequence of using another entity's legitimate registered trademark, but there is zero evidence he has ever demanded money from anyone. With the latest legal decisions in the US, UK and France all ruling that Langdell has been in the right all along, there is now no legitimate basis for labelling Langdell a "trademark troll."

"Papazian guilty of extortion"

[update] EDGE has just released details of emails which David Papazian of Mobigame wrote to EDGE's French lawyer in October 2022. In these emails Papazian clearly commits extortion by threatening the lawyer that if she does not stop representing EDGE or Tim Langdell he will use his 10 million-strong social media network to ruin her law firm and make sure no one in the game industry ever uses her firm. It's far from clear that Papazian or Mobigame have over 10 million genuine followers, but regardless such threats are at the least extremely unprofessional and unethical, at worse they may well be criminal extortion. The emails are replete with lies about Langdell and EDGE, falsely styling EDGE as a ghost company, and repeating his same old untruths about Langdell being 'a criminal' and a 'trademark troll.' It's unclear whether EDGE's French attorney took any legal action against Papazian, but she probably should have. And of course its dripping with irony that EDGE then goes on to gain a major win against Papazian in France, yet again proving Papazian wrong in his opinions about Langdell. Read Papazian's emails here Papazian's French Emails

All of which raises the question: now that Langdell has achieved win after win after win against Papazian, and proved he never did act unethically and never was a "trademark troll," will the games press at last admit that all those years ago they were wrong to back Mobigame as the good guy in this fight? Will they at last give Langdell his reputation back as perhaps a less than perfect guy, but one who was in the right in defending his EDGE marks and is, after all, a legitimate founding member of the game industry. Certainly, we here at Indy Gamer News offer our apologies on behalf of our game press colleagues and apologize for not having spoken up earlier ourselves.


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