City of Heroes tells Marvel to step off

The smallest dog in the brewing legal fight over the future of the City of Heroes MMORPG has spoken out. Marvel Comics has threatened legal action against NCsoft and Cryptic Studios, the companies behind CoH, and now Cryptic has a reply posted on its website:

As reported by The Associated Press, Marvel Enterprises Inc. and Marvel Characters, Inc. have sued NCsoft Corporation and Cryptic Studios. The complaint is meritless. Cryptic Studios is confident that the District Court will reject all of Marvel’s claims and fully vindicate Cryptic Studios in all respects.

Guess it’s time to lawyer up or shut up. Considering Marvel’s monetary power, some may see this as a brave stance by Cryptic. Others will just agree that Marvel needs to go have a seat in the time-out chair.


  1. Cryptic can afford to be brave; they’re backed by Korean giant NC Soft, whose MMORPGs (esp. Lineage I & II) are insanely popular in Asia. And NC Soft is interested in pen and paper RPGs – see this story. I’d bet on them against perpetual-verge-of-bankrupcy Marvel any day, and I’d even give them a fighting chance against Hasbro.

  2. I hope cryptic wins and puts marvel in their place. Who knows maybe they will wake up and release a game of their own that doesn’t suck.

  3. I want Marvel to shut down and shove their American workers into the unemployment office. I hope that more domestic jobs will be outsourced to Korea. Who knows? We may see Korean-based comic books kill DC Comics (another yucky American company). 😉

  4. I was going to say, I don’t think that Marvel’s the 800 lb. gorilla here. They seem to perpetually be in financial trouble.

    From an Intellectual Property perspective, I would think Marvel’s going to have an uphill battle. They’re going to need to convince the judge that City of Heroes’ “tools” to create characters like Marvel copyrighted characters is the same as actually taking those copyrighted characters.

    Given the long history of the comics business of swiping and stealing back and forth to create “DC”, “Marvel”, “Image” etc. versions of characters, I can’t possibly see how they could win.

    Basically, their case seems to rest on the potential for someone in City of Heroes to infridge being the same as actual, current infridgement. I doubt the courts will concede.

    Besides, Marvel’s been in the RPG business (non-MMORG), and should be well aware of the competitors over the decades in the same business who provide the same types of tools. That being the case, and Marvel having not brought suite against those firms (that I recall) would seem to lend further dismissal to Marvel’s case.

  5. But those pen-n-paper RPGs character are not distributed over the internet, a form of mass distribution medium. The case cite that players can make infringed trademarked heroes AND play them online on the company’s server. From Marvel’s POV, if that is the case, why should customers buy and play their official products such as X-MEN: LEGENDS?

  6. Oops. Sorry. I shouldn’t have defended the American company. Down with Marvel! I hope they shut down and let go of all their employees, from the colorists down to the blue-collar forklift driver in their warehouses! More job outsourcing outside America!

  7. Well, the means of distribution to me is a red herring; the infringement is the issue. And I just see Marvel having a tough time of it. People may be able to make a Marvel-copyrighted characters, but have they? How does Marvel successfully sue for IP infringement that hasn’t yet taken place? How do they collect damages for something yet to occur? If it occurs?

    I haven’t read the case directly yet, but it seems fairly bizarre. I think the only catch will be City of Heroes *hosting* infringing characters. If there’s not significant infringement going on yet, I’d think they could modify their contract or policy so as to ban it or shift the burden to the customer.

    It just seems like a completely frivolous case. To me, the analogy is sueing Microsoft over something like Visual Basic, which gives coders the ability to infringe on my program.

    It’s all very puzzling.

  8. if Marvel wanted to really have a strong argument, they should’ve tried something like this when CoH hit the shelves.

    they also shouldn’t be in deals to make their own superhero MMO, because now it just looks tainted as if they’re using shady business to get their upcoming product to be #1.

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