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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Gothic - Divorce Drama Update

Default Gothic - Divorce Drama Update

May 24th, 2007, 05:46
As expected the drama continues and situation gets more and more obscure. Dozens of German websites post about Gothic´s uncertain future and Piranha Bytes remains almost silent, watching the situation while JoWooD pushes forward.
Who owns the Gothic brand?
This important question cannot be answered conclusively yet. The "arguments" were exchanged in the following chronological order:
  • Piranha Bytes / Pluto 13 talks about "our brand Gothic" in the text accompanying their divorce announcement.
  • JoWooD creates facts by announcing Gothic 4.
  • Michael Rüve, Piranha Bytes´ / Pluto 13´s managing director, clarifies in the World of Gothic forum: "We have not sold the rights to the Gothic brand. Especially not in the last few months to make some quick cash […].
    JoWooD indeed has certain rights in the Gothic brand which among other things might allow them to develop a Gothic 4."
  • Today Stefan Berger, JoWooD´s head of product manager, says in an interview with PC Games: "All rights to the existing Gothic series, with the exception of Gothic 1, are contractually in possession of JoWooD."
The problem is that the meaning of the term "Gothic brand" isn´t defined in any of the sources. Are they talking about the name, the world or the characters? What about the source code, tools and engine? Is there a legal difference between a Gothic 3 add-on, Gothic 4, interpreted as the sequel to Gothic 3, and later Gothic games?
Of course we could make a check list and find out that the seemingly contradicting statements aren´t really mutually exclusive - but can it really be so simple?

Other links
  • In 4Players.de´s sharp-tongued opinion piece Good Night, Gothic the author calls JoWooD´s Gothic 4 announcement "reality satire" and then settles his accounts with both Piranha Bytes and JoWooD.
  • Extrem-Players.de recapitulates the events and takes a look into the future in When Two Quarrel, the Third Suffers . They think both parties will run into problems.
  • Print mag PC Games.de has a special with 5 articles, including the interview mentioned above and histories for both companies.
  • DemoNews.de published a reserved but very informative column titled Gothic: A Nameless Hero´s Inglorious Exit.
More information.
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May 24th, 2007, 05:46
Since Gothic is a licensed product, in all likelyhood, there shouldn't be any confusion possible as to "who owns the license", from a legal point of view. There is one holder of the right to exploit the name "Gothic®" for games, period.

Who gets to exploit sales of older Gothic games/make expansions/whatever could be another matter, but that shouldn't be so confused.
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May 24th, 2007, 07:52
The confusion is what rights does anyone have to make a Gothic 4, and are they exclusive. The contract(s) can certainly be written vaguely enough to make it unclear. In fact, sometimes contracts are intentionally vague in order to get a deal done without forcing either party's hand. One of the reasons lawyers have a job.
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May 24th, 2007, 11:09
@Gorath: Your PC Games link leads also to exp.de

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May 24th, 2007, 11:16
——- eh—- as I understand from a post on the German WOG (or Jowood.de) forum, all rights (or 'rechte) belongs to PB (or Pluto 13 GMBH) as Pluto 13/PB have registered Gothic as a trademark under German (and possibly also European) law.
I don't think that Gothic is in fact a licensed product as PB, afaik, themselves came up with the idea of Gothic back in 1997 or 1998.

As I understand a licensed product would be if a company owned the IP to say Fallout (for argument's sake) and then licensed say Interplay to do a FOOL game.
(again for argument's sake). I highly doubt that Jowood, a publisher owns the Intellectual Property to Gothic 3w which means, afaik, the arts assets, the concepts, the ideas, the source code, the software engine. Why would a publisher own PB's (or other developers ideas anyway??) This doesn't make sense, a least not to me…

And Michael Rüve said directly "Wir haben die Rechte an der Marke GOTHIC nicht verkauft" which means "we(PB) have not sold the Rights to the Gothic brand or franchise". Nothing is mentioned about what the copyright, the brand, the trademark, or the franchise consists of in relation to Gothic IP.

I think also you need to understand that the word 'Rechte' in German probably and possibly means something else than it does in say Danish or USA Law talk. (or legalese ). The Danish copyright & trademark laws are a bit different from the
ones in the USA, and the German laws may also be this…
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May 24th, 2007, 12:09
Yeah, I like this crossposting

Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
Mo,

Berger didn´t say JoWooD owns the Gothic franchise. He carefully avoided to answer the real question by stating the obvious: "JoWooD has all rights in the existing Gothic series except the first Gothic."
Of course! DTP as successor to Shoebox own #1, JoWooD funded #s 2 &3.
This says nothing about future games.
It´s a fact that the brand belongs to PB. Which and how many rights PB had to grant to JoWooD in their publishing contracts is unknown to the public.
I think, Gorath's interpretation is correct.

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May 24th, 2007, 12:21
Originally Posted by Avantenor View Post
@Gorath: Your PC Games link leads also to exp.de
Thanks.
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May 24th, 2007, 12:38
Yes, "rights" or "brand" certainly has different meanings in many countries. The concrete definitions implied by PB, JoWooD, Mr Rüve and Mr Berger are totally unclear.

Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
I highly doubt that Jowood, a publisher owns the Intellectual Property to Gothic 3w which means, afaik, the arts assets, the concepts, the ideas, the source code, the software engine. Why would a publisher own PB's (or other developers ideas anyway??) This doesn't make sense, a least not to me…
Because JoWooD funded the development. Wouldn´t you secure at least shared ownership, and exclusive ownership if possible, of everything created with your money if your investment is in the 7-digit range? In case of new IP it´s normal that the party taking the financial risk owns the IP.

JoWooD´s posted intentions to farm out patch development to another developer implies they have access to the source code. At least if we assume they´re not just lieing to calm down the masses. I´m no developer, but AFAIK you need the sources to make a patch. The same for an add-on.
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May 24th, 2007, 13:01
This reminds me of what happened to Harn. Columbia Games and Crosby split, both say the own and can only create future Harn material, and so they split and you have HarnMaster and HarnGold. There, of course, is more to it than that. And pnp games are dealing with a lot less money so any legal action is a much bigger deal to even get the ball rolling. But it would work out great for you guys if you had two sources creating Gothic games.
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May 24th, 2007, 13:04
This is going to take a herd of lawyers and a metric a$$load of paperwork to sort out …

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May 24th, 2007, 15:09
I bet there are some pissed off Germans right now arguing about who owns what and to think this all started innocently enough with some vague talk on the forums, that turned into a bad divorce drama times ten.

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I'm still just a rat in a cage.
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May 24th, 2007, 15:11
There goes the last rain forest………all in the name of Gothic?

Bart and Corwin should just admit that when it gets down to it, I will have the final say.
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May 24th, 2007, 15:23
I cannot understand that PB is making such a fuzz about Gothic anyway. I'd just let JoWood do their thing (if PB are not after money that is)… Somehow I think Gothic 3 hurt the game series more than it helped it - so why not start out with something new?
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May 24th, 2007, 15:26
Bah, all this arguing between them is not going to solve anything. Instead of making a huge add-on, like tnotr, which could probably fix original g3 and fill that dull world with interesting content, they have to make an ass out of themselfs and start making g4, which was never even in the plans . Oh dear, what will this lead to…atleast we got excellent G1 and G2 we can play over and over again and never get bored of.
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May 24th, 2007, 15:27
I agree. It might not be that bad of a thing.
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May 24th, 2007, 16:30
G4 = yet another empty dull world filled with void. They should just stick to an engine and crank out content either in addons or sequels. I can only imagine what kind of game they could make if they could put 100% of devtime into the game instead of dividing it with stuff like game engine (60%). Cant understand why every new game needs a new game engine. Stupid imho.
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May 24th, 2007, 16:38
I can't understand why everybody is buying this stupid Unreal 3 engine so every game looks the same.

Yeah, this divorce scenario imho is quite funny. Never had so much fun reading through this several reactions, official forums, world of gothic, press releases. One could think the end of the world is near. What a fun.

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May 24th, 2007, 16:48
Originally Posted by Avantenor View Post
I can't understand why everybody is buying this stupid Unreal 3 engine so every game looks the same.
What rpgs are there btw that use that engine?
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May 24th, 2007, 16:52
Spontanously? Mass Effect, Obsidian for an unannounced project (Alien?)

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May 24th, 2007, 16:56
Originally Posted by Avantenor View Post
Spontanously? Mass Effect, Obsidian for an unannounced project (Alien?)
Thats not much then (not that mass effect looks promising). Maybe its just too expensive then so most develop their own engine for the rpg.

Building rpg with new engine is like building a car except you have to invent the gasoline engine from scratch everytime. Then the customers complain that the car handles poorly, is ugly, has horrid ui and breaks up way too often.
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