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Old August 17th, 2007, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by LKW View Post
GDW was sued by TSR for allegedly publishing products derivative of D&D and AD&D . . . the list of derivative points included things like using dice to create random character attributes and to resolve combat. Another allegation was having a game version of a spell to heal wounds. It was two years before the case was settled (out of court).

So yes, you can be sued for almost anything, and it can take a while for the legal bills to stop. Fortunately, GDW's license contract for the intellecual property involved had a "hold harmless" clause so we didn't have to pay the legal bills. Frank Chadwick DID have to waste a lot of time answering depositions, however.
Yep, the incidental cost of litigation can be significant. In my experience, this can exceed the amounts being fought over. The problem is that most folks (even business owners) fail to consider the value of their time. So when (say) Frank Chadwick spent 20 hours preparing for and attending depositions, GDW lost the value of 20 hours of his time in addition to the legal fees incurred. If his time was worth (say) $50 per hour to GDW, then the deposition effectively cost $1000 + legal fees. Because this is a non-cash expenditure, it's often overlooked by the parties.

As a business litigator (usually defense) I ALWAYS explain the purpose of the legal system to my clients:

The law is not designed to produce truth or even justice. It is solely designed to resolve disuptes between the parties without gunfire. It accomplishes this objective by being expensive, time consuming, burdensome and incredibly unpleasant. The reason 95% of lawsuits settle is that eventually most folks get tired of paying legal fees.

I then show them a graph illustrating the estimated cumulative cost of a lawsuit at each stage--filing the answer, completing discovery, mandatory mediation, trial prep, etc. I then ask "where, on this timeline do you want me to get serious about settling this case?"

I'd also note that while GDW was fortunate in having an enforceable "hold harmless" provision, such provisions are only valuable if they can be enforced -- i.e., the indemnifying party actually has assets that the indemnified party can reach.

Originally Posted by LKW View Post
IIRC, the "tapping" thing is the patent that WotC got nearly a decade ago, and then sent letters to every gaming company who published a game with cards in it. GDW got one, but we had no games that used the "tapping" mechanic. As far as I know, this patent has never been the subject of litigation.

Also IIRC, the issue in the WizKidz/WotC is _another_ patent, something about games with pieces that are disassembled to represent damage received . . . or something. I am not a lawyer, so I don't follow these things very closely.
I sporadically follow them. I personally don't think that WOTC will prevail in the patent suit if it goes the distance. But I also doubt it will go the distance -- remember, ~95% of civil suits settle.

If WOTC's legal team agrees with me, I'd expect them to settle with WizKidz -- probably by granting them a very cheap license to use WOTC's purportedly patented process, in exchange for dropping the suit and signing a very comprehensive non-disclosure agreement. That way, WizKidz gets what it wants and WOTC preserves its purported patent.

On the other hand, if WizKidz legal team thinks that it will probably lose (or if WizKidz thinks the suit will be too costly to continue), I'd expect them to settle with WOTC -- probably by purchasing a license to use WOTC's purportedly patented process, in exchange for dropping the suit and signing a very comprehensive non-disclosure agreement. In that case, WizKidz gets as good a deal as it can and WOTC preserves its purported license and avoids the risk and expense of trial.

And in either case, third parties will not know who actually got the better deal since everyone will be under an NDA.

Last edited by tbeard1999; August 17th, 2007 at 01:35 PM..
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