Games Workshop Claims Rights to the Term ‘Space Marine’

…world slaps forehead.


Some of you might have heard this already, but here’s a link to an article sticking up for a science fiction writer who has had her book removed from Amazon in response to a request from Games Workshop.  Because it has the words ‘Space Marine’ in the title.

That’s right, good old GW have decided to expand their muscle tactics beyond the small world of hobby games and miniatures and have started telling sci-fi writers that they can’t use those two famous words.  I’ll be interested to see how this pans out – bullying garage miniature sculptors is one thing, telling authors (many of whom presumably have publishers much bigger than GW) that they can’t say ‘space marine’ is a whole other kettle of fish.

As one of my mates said: “why don’t those asshats just fucking trademark ‘war’ and ‘future’ while they’re at it?”

Another internet commentator pointed out that in the US, the Unites States Marine Corps owns the rights to the term ‘marine’, and that they do in fact have actual, real-life marines trained for space.  So good luck prosecuting that one GW, you monumental basket case of blundering, flailing evilness.

You know, really nothing they do surprises me any more.  I don’t know why I bother even paying attention.   It’s fascinating, I guess…?

10 responses to “Games Workshop Claims Rights to the Term ‘Space Marine’

  • Mr_Pink

    I’m glad someone else is talking about this.

    Here’s hoping the author is able to stand and fight this.

    I’ve been setting to work on some graphics to illustrate the issue. Feel free to share them if you like them:

    • James S

      @Mr_Pink, those are pretty funny! I like the Tau one. I’m totally a noob at Twitter though so I can’t really share them. People will have to go to the link you left, sorry. :/

  • Onshava

    Sounds like we’ve got the space for some lively debate! I’ll play devil’s advocate to get conversation going.

    From a certain perspective, Games Workshop could be attempting to exert their trademark over “Space Marine” as a title, not a descriptor. For example, saying, “Fido the Dog” over “Fido, a dog”. In the author’s book title, “Spots the Space Marine”, she’s using it as a title, which may fall under their trademark. Maybe GW didn’t create the term, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t own it. As an example, if I wrote a book called, “Seth the Wolverine,” I would probably be sued by Marvel. Crazy, right? After all, wolverines are real life creatures far older than the comic, but Marvel turned it into a title. Logan is The Wolverine, not a wolverine, just as Codex Astartes are the Space Marines, not a group of space marines.

    Speaking of comics, did you know that Marvel and DC co-own the trademark for “superhero” and all variations? Sounds nuts, because it’s an extremely common word in today’s society, but it’s true. They also pulled a GW and sued a small publisher over its usage. (

    Is it all fair? Not too sure. I can see both sides of the argument. I just like to show that both sides do have a case, not that it’s just corporate big wigs being asshats.

    • James S

      @Onshava, thanks for commenting. In addition to not knowing how to use Twitter, I’m not really qualified to talk about copyright law! You’re probably right that they have a case, although I find it hard to understand what Space Marine “as a title” means. How is that different from just Space Marine used as a job description, which presumably can’t be copyrighted? Isn’t saying “our Space Marines are THE Space Marines” just hot air? It’s not really an argument, just an assertion.

      In any case, I’m not judging their actions on the merits of their case or whether it’s good business sense – it probably is – I’m judging them on how responsible they are as members of the community. Which is not very, in my opinion. As members of the sci-fi community I think GW should have more respect for the genre and its history.

  • James S

    Oh I forgot, that’s interesting about the term superhero. I had a discussion at Porky’s Expanse once about how it’s kind of absurd to think that anyone owns characters like Superman and Batman.

    They are such familiar bits of our culture that it’s fair to say you wouldn’t really count as a normal English speaker or be able to have conversations with others if you weren’t familiar with those characters. So do they then belong to all of us as ideas, like any other word in daily use?

  • sinsynn

    Oh fer the love of….
    If GW wasn’t this somewhat massive entity (for a hobby manufacturer anyhow), I would really be inclined to tell them something along the lines of ‘get a life.’

    Heya James- hope all is well. Listen, man…drop me an e-mail at so I can hit you up with my XBox info.
    Maybe sometime we can hook up (late for you, early for me or vice-versa, or I’m up at all weird hours over the weekend) and play some Borderlands or sumpthin.’
    Hope all is well and be eezy, my friend.

    • James S

      @sinsynn yep, things are good. hectic as usual these days. Sometimes I miss being able to spend hours reading blogs and composing epic ramblings!

      I’ve sent you that email 😉

  • Von

    You know, my WoW guildies already laugh at wargaming. ‘Basements’ and ‘overcomplicated badly written rules’ and ‘arguments’ feature strongly in their jeers (which just goes to show that there really is nothing like a nerd when it comes to nerd-shaming) and when the Big Wargaming Company They’ve Heard Of acts like this, it doesn’t do the hobby any favours.

    I wouldn’t be so sure about publishers being bigger than GW, either. Some are, and I don’t know who this particular author’s publishers are owned by, but the Black Library is big enough to give smaller presses pause for thought. At the one and only Sci-Fi Social I went to in London, quite a few authors were shaking their heads sadly at the amount of shelf space the Black Library is able to occupy these days; maybe not the prestigious eye-line space, but a comparatively large slice of wall for a comparatively niche ‘less than literary’ product. By way of an example, they’re definitely bigger than a genre press like Immanion…

    • James S

      @Von yeah, I don’t think her book has a large publisher at all. I gather that they are picking on the weak in order to strengthen their case for future battles. sci-fi is definitely rife with small presses, but there are also the big players, and if you pick on one author you might awaken a sleeping giant.

      Personally I’d like to see Michael Moorcock’s publisher sue them for appropriating the eight pointed star of Chaos. Let’s see them remove that from all their products without leaving a gaping wound.

      As for nerds shaming one another, even I as a player of 40k have to admit that it’s pretty uncool. What do you think is the lowest? LARP? Maybe anime LARP?

      • Von

        Fanfiction based on your erotic furry anime LARP where you were playing yourself, if I remember my Geek Hierarchy accurately.

        I think Moorcock probably thinks GW are beneath his notice, which is ironic considering the number of books he’s underwritten for the money in his time…

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