A UK court has ruled in favor of Edge magazine publisher Future in a court case brought against controversial Edge Games founder Tim Langdell, finding the latter in breach of a contract that prevented him from claiming any association with the magazine.
According to the ruling
, an agreement in 1996 saw Future paying Langdell (through his company, Edge Interactive Media) a one-time fee of 20,000 pounds in return for a royalty-free license to use the name "Edge" in the UK in relation to its magazine, which started publication in 1993.
Langdell originally filed for the UK trademark for Edge Games in 1994. The agreement prohibited Langdell from "claiming any association or connection with the Edge magazine," and from making or licensing a magazine similar to Edge or using the Edge name.
According to Future's complaint, "as Edge magazine's success grew, Dr. Langdell's behavior became increasingly burdensome," leading to a new Concurrent Trading Agreement in 2004 that saw another $275,000 paid by Future to Langdell to establish complete ownership of the name Edge for use on the magazine and related materials. Future agreed to not use the name Edge outside of the magazine itself, and Langdell agreed that he would not permit the name "Edge" to be used in any way that might confuse it with Future's brand.
The main crux of Future's complaint centers around Langdell's use of a logo strikingly similar to that used by the magazine on his Edge Games website and on promotional materials. Future argues the logo was replicated to show a connection between Langdell and the magazine, while Langdell claims that he created the logo himself before the magazine existed.
According to Langdell, he invented the iconic Edge logo in 1991, and used it on a one-page software catalog and a flyer distributed at trade shows at the time, neither of which Langdell could procure for the court.
Instead, Langdell presented a 5.25" floppy disk containing the files for both the catalog and the flyer, both of which show "last modified" dates from 1991. The disk was sent to an expert (a Mr. Steggles of data recovery and computer forensics company Disklabs
), who concluded that not only was the disk genuine to the time period, but also that the files were genuinely created in 1991.
However, an examination by Future's own expert showed that the alleged 1991-created files were created using Windows 95, which did not exist at the time. There was also evidence to show that the files were deliberately backdated.
Langdell then claimed that he had sent the wrong disk: according to him, this was actually a backup of the original that he created in the mid-90s, and he had accidentally mixed up the two. When asked to explain the backdating, Langdell explained that he "wanted to create a clone as close as possible to the original."
"I have decided that I should apply some common sense to this issue," the judge wrote. While she did not outright rule that the evidence was forged, she wrote that she "cannot let the case run on indefinitely in circumstances where the evidence (properly and fully tested in cross-examination) is overwhelming that the disks were concocted."
According to the ruling, there is "no doubt" that Langdell "deliberately adopted a logo which is an obvious replica" of Future's Edge magazine, and that his use of the logo was "designed to confuse visitors to his website," citing several examples in which Langdell appears to be claiming some ownership or association with the magazine, in direct violation of his contract with Future.
When asked to explain why Langdell's biography on the IGDA website claims that his Edge Games brand "spawned such well-known Edge branded ventures as Edge magazine," Langdell denied responsibility for the text, despite being on IGDA's board of directors at the time (his membership has since been revoked
The judge found that Langdell's use of the logo was a fundamental breach of the original agreement, and that his actions are "treating the contract as being at an end." As such, she ruled that the CTA agreement from 2004 has now been terminated.
The judge also determined that an association with Langdell "is likely to cause serious damage" to Future and to Edge magazine.
Finally, the judge determined that Langdell could not substantiate that his trademarks were still valid, as he was not able to show that he has used the name commercially in UK in the last five years. While Langdell claims to have been selling games under the Edge Games name in the UK during this period, the only evidence of anyone purchasing them was an order placed by Future itself, which was not fulfilled.
Langdell also claims to have been licensing the Edge names to various companies in the UK during this time, citing various examples: 20th Century Fox film The Edge, Datel-manufactured Wii controller The Edge, and NIS' PlayStation 3 game Cross Edge
. The court could find no evidence to support the sale of these products in the UK.
Another alleged licensee was computer manufacturer Velocity Micro
. Langdell presented what he said was an email exchange between himself and Velocity's Randy Copeland which showed that the sales of that company's "Edge" and "Gamer's Edge" computers are "way over $1m for each year." However, Copeland came forward after being contacted by Future and said that the emails appear to have been altered, and that the actual UK sales figures were "nil," adding to the list of alleged licensees that had not sold Edge-branded products in the past five years.
The judge ruled in favor of Future, saying that it was able to establish all claims, namely breach of contract and breach of copyright. It would appear that the termination of the parties' CTA agreement will now allow Future to use the Edge name on products beyond its magazine.