February 8, 2013 | By Richard Esguerra

M.C.A. Hogarth on Trademark Bullying and Free Speech

The following is a guest post from M.C.A. Hogarth—author, space marine enthusiast, and indie business advisor.

I'm M.C.A. Hogarth and I'd like to tell you how the EFF helped protect my work and the idea of a "space marine" from a shameless legal bully.

I wrote a web serial called Spots the Space Marine as an homage to Heinlein and the greats of science fiction. Crowdfunding allowed me to launch print and e-book editions that I made available on Amazon... until a trademark threat from Games Workshop over the term "space marine" caused Amazon to remove the ebook from its virtual shelves.

I made an honest effort to find out what it would take to fight the legal battle. Even more than wanting to save Spots the Space Marine, I wanted to save all space marines for the genre I grew up reading. I wanted there to be a world where Heinlein and E.E. Smith's space marines could live alongside mine and everyone else's. No one should have the hubris to think that they can own a fundamental genre trope and deny it to everyone else.

But that legal fight would have cost a lot of money -- money I didn't have. I shared my story, put out a call for support, and the lawyers at EFF answered the call.

Spots is now available on Amazon again, and I have the justice-seeking community of the Internet to thank for rallying behind me and the idea that anyone should be free to write a story about space marines or any other common term.

Please make a donation to EFF to support free speech and justice in intellectual property. I have been overwhelmed by how supportive the community has been and hope that together we can continue to protect indie authors and artists from legal bullying.

With gratitude,
M.C.A. Hogarth

P.S. If you are under some kind of tech-related legal threat, don't hesitate to contact EFF. They are a small non-profit that takes cases when they can and always attempts to connect people to resources that could help.


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