Harmony Gold And Piranha Games Lawsuit Has Been “Resolved”

Atlas Punch

Harmony Gold’s lawsuit against BattleTech and it’s various creators looks to finally be over. And this time, just maybe, it’s over for good.

Piranha Games President Russ Bullock took to the MechWarrior Online forums to make an official announcement on the settlement between PGI and Harmony Gold. He was necessarily brief with his words as the exact details of the settlement were not disclosed. However, he was able to offer this approved wording:

“Harmony Gold and Piranha Games are delighted to announce that they have ended their dispute. Piranha Games will continue to use the “classic” BattleTech designs and Harmony Gold and Piranha Games look forward to continuing to serve their respective fans and customers.”

Standard disclaimer: I’m no lawyer, but this seems like a win. It essentially means that Piranha Games can continue to use the Unseen ‘Mech designs currently in MechWarrior Online, and likely can put a few into the upcoming MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries as well. 

Thanks to the kind folks over at the BattleTech subreddit, we also have a copy of the court documents for people to verify with more legally-trained eyes.

Robotech courtesy of Mecha Talk

courtesy of Mecha Talk

Note the use of “dismissal with prejudice” in the court docs. This means that whatever terms were agreed upon for the settlement, Harmony Gold cannot bring the same case before the courts again. In order to sue PGI they’d have to convince a judge that the new case isn’t the same as the old one, which would probably be a very tough thing to do after all this litigation.

And even if Harmony Gold convinced a judge that there’s a new case to argue, they’d still be right back where we last left them before the settlement: with PGI arguing that Harmony Gold doesn’t even own the copyrights and can’t sue as a result.

That’s not to say that a new lawsuit isn’t impossible. We don’t know the terms of the settlement, so whatever deal they worked out might only be for the current generation of games. A new game, say BattleTech 2 or MechWarrior 6, might not be protected by this settlement (if Unseen designs are used) and be subject to another lawsuit.

Another big deal is that this settlement drops the claims against everyone, including Catalyst Game Labs. We no longer have to worry about HG shutting down the tabletop side of things just because of a dispute in the virtual world of video games.

Now, there’s a lot of debate over on the official BattleTech forums about what suddenly brought this case to a settlement when PGI seemed like they were all-in on their arguments against Harmony Gold. Maybe HG managed to get that letter rogatory from Big West authorizing them to defend copyrights that they owned? Or maybe there was something even bigger hidden in HG’s arsenal that we might never know about.

All we can say for sure is that this looks to be the end of the road for this current spat of legal issues for now, and maybe, hopefully, forever.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

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This entry was posted in MechWarrior Online, News, Video Games on by .

About Sean

Hooked on BattleTech at an early age, Sean honestly can't remember whether it was the cartoon, the serial novels or the short-lived TCG that did him in. Whatever it was, his passion for giant shooty robots never died, so now he writes about the latest and greatest in 'Mech related news.

15 thoughts on “Harmony Gold And Piranha Games Lawsuit Has Been “Resolved”

  1. Derek

    Just because it was dismissed with prejudice, doesn’t mean that HG can’t sue. It just wouldn’t be over copyright infringement, but a breach of contract (the settlement). Since we don’t know what was in the settlement, we don’t know what would breach it.

      1. Socipat

        “Starting in July 2015, Catalyst Game Labs began to release entirely new art that is meant to retroactively replace the unseen imagery, in what is one of the few true retcons of BattleTech lore.”
        “Piranha Games will continue to use the “classic” BattleTech designs”
        i.e. the Classic Battletech imagery for the Macross unseen.
        Keep in mind that the Unseen mechs was never removed from canon and the dispute was over the imagery of the mechs. What the announcement means is that all the companies involved in on the Battletech side can use the replaced imagery from Classic Battletech without fear of HG taking them to court.
        Unseen already in MWO are the Marauder IIc, Phoenix Hawk, Archer, Rifleman, Warhammer, and Marauder.

  2. Cache

    I don’t understand wht people have to be so “doom and gloom” about this by assuming HG had the upper hand. A trial would have stretched out for a long time and cost a lot of money. A smart business decision would be to settle if it accomplished the same goal as a win. For all we know PGI got exactly what they wanted and HG insisted on the specific wording of a press release in order to protect themselves in their own future legal endeavors against someone else. This article ends by trying to make it sound as though HG could have won if they wanted. Why spread imagined negativity? With HG’s history of lawsuits, why do you think they settled if they felt they could win? I think PGI handed them their heads and offered the settlement so they could move on now rather than much later.

    1. MadCat221

      People are being all Doom and gloom because they’ve become inured to the franchise owners previously just doing a BOHICA over the whole HG lawyer tantrums.

      1. Cache

        They are not inured to that, they are dwelling on the past. The original lawsuits happened over 20 years ago. There has been NOTHING since from HG until this latest lawsuit. The Doom and Gloomers are just doing what they do best, living in their self-imposed misery telling stories about how the HG boogeyman ruined everything they loved. Yes, HG was a pain in the ass in the 1990’s and was a pain in the ass for the last year or so. But that’s all. The Doom and Gloomers have been a bigger pain in the ass, IMO. At the risk of sounding like a hippie, if you love the franchise and want it to grow, you spread the love, not the gloom.

  3. JPArbiter

    Cache beat me to it,

    PGI wasn’t necessarily brought to the table, it could have been HG, whom up to this point has faced loss after loss and setback after setback in this case, needing to drop the case against Harebrained itself, kill the possibility of expanding the suit, and had been faced with Rule 11 sanctions by the judge. it could be and in my mind seems to be a situation where HG knew they were going to be on the losing end of things and PGI unlike FASA before them was willing to go all the way in this rather then roll over and Die.

    put it another way. HG Requested Heigera, and PGI who wanted nothing to do with this in the first place granted it on the condition they leave their Battlemechs behind.

    1. Gregorri davion

      JPArbiter has the right of it. For so long I am wondering how the hell most of the guys that frequent all the forums could have possibly read this saga as anything but a loss for HG.

  4. richard layton

    Do I here the Stinger, Wasp, Valkyrie,Crusader and Longbow being released….and no Harmony Gold did not get the upper hand.

  5. Flaktrooper

    I suppose they can start releasing more and more of the Unseen now, all in MWO, BT, and MW5.
    For those who are worried, the worst case is just HG getting some ‘shut up’ money while PGI and HS is now completely free to do anything they want. I am guessing that money isn’t as much as they had hope but with 2021 closing in, HG don’t have much time left to cash in with their 2 decade old lawsuit.

    1. Brian Critchle

      that’s right don’t they lose the macross rights in 2021? Maybe instead of idiotic lawsuits HG should invest it’s time in… I dunno turning robotech into a unique and independant frachise capable of supporting itself as a genuinely distinct thing? Yeah know be creative and add something to mech fandom as a whole rather then just be a destructive parasite.

  6. MadCat221

    What about Harebrained Schemes? I distinctly recall seeing a PGI-sourced Marauder slinging lightning wads left and right on an alpha build demo of HBS BattleTech. The Orion is all alone as the lord of the heavies, and the K2 Catapult just doesn’t quite measure up to a Maddy or Warhammer in the realm of dual-PPC heavies.

  7. Gwydion_Wolf

    I just wish the next 3? 4? years go by semi-fast, and HG finally looses their “IP Rights” to Robotech.

    I am a Fan of Robotech, its one of the first ‘anime’ type cartoons i ever remember watching and i loved it. I also loved the BattleTech cartoon, and fell in love with its lore and such as it developed over the years.

    But asside from that one experience with Robotech, and its cartoon series in the States, All i have ever heard about “Robotech Related” is about HG suing company after company after company for making anything even remotely similar to a robot with 2 legs, piloted by a human, that had guns. :(

    Ive never once heard anything actualy ‘news’ about new Robotech stuff, or movies, or games, or such. Just lawsuit after lawsuit. All its done is make me despise the company and feel like my childhood favorate cartoon has forever been tarnished by the crap they pull every single year ;(

  8. T_C

    If P.G.I, and H.B.S. Do not, in the future, add, the Missing unseen assets, it is still Technically a Win for Harmony Gold.

    I’ll go further and say that if the, War Hammer, Archer, Rifleman etc are missing from M.W.5 not only is it a Technical win it’s a big win for Harmony Gold.

    No good trying to paint a pig, and call it a horse, if the result means, that the customer, has no access to these Mech’s, the result is the same

    In actual fact worse, than before the case, as there is no longer, any more prospect of P.G.I producing the Wasp, Stinger, Crusader, which before it, were a possibility.

    The Best that can be said of it, is that P.G.I will not be sued again for the Assets that are all ready produced, and in their game currently, which means the dwindling M.W.O population no long run the risk of losing what they and other B.T fans wanted for so long.

    1. JB

      *Sorry for the necro, but it feels wrong to leave this conversation on such and unnecessarily salty and completely unwarranted negative note.*

      Wow! Could you have got any more negativity in your comment T_C? Do you work for HG or something? You start from with an exceedingly unlikely position and just extrapolate direct to armageddon based on nothing but a bogeyman of your own creation!

      Due to the way all Mechwarrior/Mechcommander/Battletech games have handled salvage, the roster of mechs in the game has to be limited or the player will never face the same mech twice and never get a lance of the mechs they want. So, with that in mind, the devs will make a decision on what mechs to include to create a sufficiently varied roster, without it being unwieldy. This roster may include mechs such as the Warhammer et al, or it may not, because as I explained above, there will always be mechs missing out and the devs may easily conclude that it is easier to leave the mechs involved in the lawsuit out to avoid potential complications this time around.

      However even if these mechs are left out this time, they could easily be included in the next game, or included in a later DLC.


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