More News On Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech


courtesy of Bradigus

courtesy of Bradigus

Good evening BattleTech fans! While we’re on the eve of BattleTech’s long-awaited release, we have some news on the lawsuit front for the ongoing legal battle between Harebrained Schemes, PGI, and Harmony Gold.

When we last left our intrepid heroes they were asking the judge for summary judgment against HG to find in favor of the defendants (that’s us) without needing to go into a lengthy trial. It turns out that PGI found the results of an earlier trial that proved Harmony Gold didn’t even have the rights to the Unseen ‘Mechs they were suing over in the first place. Those designs were in fact owned by another company called Big West.

What happened next was Harmony Gold decided to amend their complaint and remove some of the specific language from their suit against PGI and Harebrained Schemes. This was in order to buy time and stave off a summary judgment against them, which was seeming very likely due to the shaky legal ground HG suddenly found themselves on.

Not to be deterred, PGI refiled their motion for summary judgment with mostly the same language as before after HG amended their complaint. I’m no lawyer, but according to Reddit user GoodTry3067 (and with kudos for explaining all the legalese) we could be in for a long wait while the judge decides on the request for judgment Like, to the tune of 6 months.

I know, I know, that’s a bummer, but chin up! It’s looking like we might finally see the last of the much-reviled Harmony Gold.

But not so fast. In a last-ditch effort, Harmony Gold is throwing the legal equivalent of a long-bomb, 600 yard play (is that what they’re called? I know less about sports than I do about law) by requesting a letter of rogatory–essentially a letter from litigators in Japan asking them to confirm HG’s ownership of the Unseen copyrights.

They’re not likely to get it for a two reasons: A) Japanese companies rarely, if ever, come to the defense of American companies, let alone idiotic ones like HG who litigate themselves into a corner, and B) any litigator sending a letter to the judge opining that HG owns the copyrights would be lying since they do not.

how I imagine this all went down (courtesy of associated press)

How I imagine this all went down (courtesy of associated press)

Rightly smelling blood, PGI filed a motion to deny HG’s request for a letter rogatory from Japan on the completely reasonable grounds that they should have sent this request way back during the discovery process and not on the eve of trial. They also assert, probably correctly, that HG is just trying to delay a trial and waste the court’s time.

“Piranha opposes the motion for several reasons, but principally because the issue of who owns the copyrights asserted in this case has already been decided by three courts,” wrote PGI in their request for dismissal. “In light of those court rulings, the only apparent reason for Harmony Gold’s motion is to create confusion and cause delay.”

Ouch. There’s no word yet on when the judge will rule on PGI’s motion, which was filed on April 2, but here’s hoping the judge finally loses their cool and tosses Harmony Gold on their collective asses.

Before I end this update, I have a special request. It looks like Harmony Gold may finally get what’s coming to them, and on that day we’re going to need some appropriately smarmy art commemorating the occasion. If you or someone you know might be artistically inclined and can produce an image of Harmony Gold getting either crushed, blasted, or otherwise destroyed by a BattleMech–any ‘Mech, even one of the Unseen–then please send it on over so we can showcase it on what will hopefully be the best news update Sarna has ever posted.  

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

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28 thoughts on “More News On Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech

  1. Zidders Roofurry

    Damn. This is awesome news so far. I’ve been fascinated (and frustrated) with the whole Unseen thing for years…and I’m not even that big into Battletech (I love the art-I’m just terrible at the games and lack the funds to play with mini’s). Good luck with your case.

    1. Amaroq Starwind

      You’re not the only one. I have been a BattleTech fan for 14 years, and only got the Introductory Boxed Set two years ago. I was also first introduced to BattleTech through my childhood interest in Robotech, along with the appearance of the games MechCommander 2 and MechWarrior 4.

      If you live in the Houston area, maybe I could host a BattleTech thing that you could visit. Maybe…

      As for celebration, I dunno… Maybe I’ll actually start working on my Robotech/BattleTech crossover adventure/TRO/scenario pack.

  2. Darrious Quinn

    Excellent news and excellent write-up, thank you for keeping us informed.

    I can defiantly get behind some art depicting NuSeen crushing original Unseen versions.

  3. Colonel Wolf (Armageddon Unlimited, ret.)

    Sean, thank you for the update. Those of us who’ve followed this since the beginning of the legal mire -yes, I am that old, hehe- have known Big West was a part of this, that they gave FASA voco copyright about four years before another company with the rights gave it to Harmony Gold. Had Weisman and FASA kept their cake-holes shut about the Coleco Robotech toys, perhaps supporting them, instead, BattleTech might be a whole lot bigger than it is and the HG/FASA feud might not have ever existed. It is what it is, and I’m glad to see we’re having a potentially very positive outcome.

    As for HG being tossed out on their collective asses concerning Robotech/BattleTech, I’m thinking there needs to be a massive party about it, on top of the artwork. I don’t even deal with BattleTech/MechWarrior the way I used to, when I was a kid, anymore, though I’m looking at purchasing all of the re-release novels/novellas Catalyst is doing -I used to have them all- and reading them, again, and I’m ready to put a party on at my new house for BT/MW players across my part of the state when this happens.

    I’m very much looking forward to your next update.

  4. Hawk819

    Awesome news! About time the community got some good news i all this mess. Hopefully, HG will have learned their lesson this mess. They got away with this sh*t against FASA, but this time, they bit off more than can chew, or for that matter, swallow.

  5. Amaroq Starwind

    I actually feel really bad for Harmony Gold… I grew up with Robotech (in particular, the first edition of Robotech RPG… Though that was a Palladium thing), and after digging into the history of Harmony Gold…

    Their founder Carl Macek (may he rest in peace) was actually a pretty cool guy, and if I recall correctly then the lawsuits against FASA by Harmony Gold in the mid 1990’s didn’t start until Carl Macek died/left the company (whichever it was, I last researched this a long time ago).

    It is also worth mentioning that BattleTech (or back then, Battledroids) was first published at least a full year before Robotech started airing here in the United States. Additionally, FASA were themselves the victims of some copyright infringement in the past, and when they filed a lawsuit over unauthorized production of BattleTech-themed toys by another company (who I forgot the name of), Harmony Gold actually came to their rescue to backed up FASA’s claims.

    I’m a bit worried about what might happen to Robotech once Harmony Gold inevitably kicks the bucket, and am really hoping that the intellectual property finds its way into the hands of somebody on good terms with BattleTech’s current owners. In the mean time, as am act of good faith, maybe the current owners of BattleTech should give Harmony Gold something of consolation if they manage to survive this legal battle. What exactly that would consist of, I don’t know, but it should be something that gets the message across that they shouldn’t be enemies.

    1. LeoCeballos

      Robotech will probably die – and I admit, part of me will be sad to see it. But then we’ll start getting proper Macross coming to the States, and that’s a good thing.

    2. Flashpoint

      While I understand the desire to be the metaphorical bigger man in this case, I really don’t think PGI or any associated license holders should make any sort of conciliatory overtures towards Harmony Gold. To be blunt, they simply have not shown themselves mature or reasonable enough to deserve any sort of consolation.

      The decision-makers at that company have demonstrated a widespread pattern of exploitation and litigiousness that has targeted not just Battletech, but GI Joe, Transformers, and Tatsunoko, the very company that granted them distribution rights to Macross content in the first place. If that’s how they treat with their benefactors, I have no reason to doubt that they would also find a way to bite a hand extended in friendship.

    3. Nilus

      Robotech is going to die. Harmony Gold is loosing it license in a couple years and none of the Japanese parties want to consider re-licensing any of those anime to them.

      You are right that Harmony Gold under Macek was not a bad company, they pioneered bring Anime to the states and despite some questionable decision on dubbing and editing they did a lot for the early anime community in the states.

      The problem is Harmony Gold can’t figure out how to actually make money off Robotech as a brand so they are just using it as a way to make money through litigation. Basically being copy write hoarders.

      The good news is once they lose the license then we may be able to finally get to see those Macross sequels that are mostly terrible but may be improved with subtitles done by professionals and not fan communities

  6. Flashpoint

    Artwise, I think we could all do with an homage to Maeve Wolf’s triumph over Alpin in Wolf Pack: a triumphant Thunderbolt crushing the Harmony Gold logo in its uplifted hand.

    I’ve never had any fondness for frivolous litigation, and Harmony Gold has long since left a bad taste in my mouth. Any courtesy or goodwill I’ve held for them has long since dried up, much like their legal defenses.

  7. Derek Blackston

    How the fuck is Harmony Gold even paying for this case? I mean where are they getting the cash given that they haven’t even made a film or edited some anime from Japan in more than 10 years.

    1. Avery

      Harmony Gold is more of a holding company of sorts. They’re primarily funded through the hospitality industry, with HG owning a bunch of hotels and resorts, so they’re never going to be want for money. TV distribution and licensing was a side venture, they just have a bunch of bean counters who want to continue to see a profit out of an old property like this. As long as they can see money in the Robotech license, whether through new licensing or through litigation whenever someone digs up their IP, they’re going to continue to do so. Basically, if there was no new Macross series or Battletech stopped trying to use the Unseen, they’re wouldn’t be a reason for them to try to wring some money out of it.

    1. Nilus

      Nah, Should be a unseen Warhammer crushing it. A unseen Phoenix Hawk could work too, but the PH is ironically the Skull Squadron Valkyrie from Macross. So that might confuse the message. The Warhammer is also a Macross battloid, but its hardly iconic of that franchise but is iconic of Battletech(being the cover mech for the original box set up till 1996)

      The locust, ironically, is not a Robotech mech at all and is far an entirely different anime, that I don’t think Harmony Gold ever had the rights for.

      1. Ishy

        Naw, I feel like an Urbie or a Flea would be more suitable. Rub some salt into the wound, y’know?

  8. MAuther

    You have no idea how much Harmony Gold is hated in many business circles. How they have treated Battletech and Robotech is basically how they handle every deal. Litigate, obstruct, harass. That is their strategy. Don’t forget they’ve gotten in trouble for violating Aparteid sanctions, tax fraud in Italy, tax and property issues in California, and multiple lawsuits with Japanese production companies.

    I was lucky enough to be in an arbitration hearing with Harmony Gold over a real estate issue about 15 years ago. It was embarrassing.

  9. Nilus

    I wonder if the Robotech Tactics fiasco and Palladium loosing the Robotech license somehow fits into all this.

    1. Brian

      rumor has it HG’s original contract runs out in 2020. and that due to the legal BSery there’s no chance in hell they’re getting it back. as such the Palladium games fiasco may well be because HG knows renewing the lisence would be unfeesable

  10. Ian Wagner

    A file image from AP? Tsk. Only a still from ‘My Cousin Vinnie’ could do this justice!

  11. Rex Offa

    I don’t know anything about Harmony Gold and I have no dog in this fight other than having been a BattleTech for 30 years and being very anxious for the new BattleTech and MechWarrior games to come out, but . . .

    You should definitely take a look at Harmony Gold’s reply to PGI’s motion (filed yesterday, 4/9) before you start popping the champagne corks. The issue is not nearly so cut-and-dry as this article makes it out, and frankly, I would be very surprised if the judge grants PGI’s motion for summary judgment.

    Just some thoughts from an IP lawyer.

  12. Brian

    HG is going to lose the lisence so robotech’s dead. what’ll HAPPEN is Robotech’ll be forgotten about as the core series ar ejust translated and brought directly to north America, HG here fools coasting on their lisences and not actually doing anything new. if they where smart they’d have moved ahead and created their own independant IP and franchise on the bones of the original robotech

  13. CF

    I’m going with a pic of my models of the Unseen, with speech bubbles coming from them reading “FREE AT LAST! FREE AT LAST! THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, WE ARE FREE AT LAST!” (Yes, I have models of all of them, tho’ I need to repair the leg on my _Ostall_ — sorry, _Locust_. ;) )


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