Games Workshop Space Marine Trademark Battle Erupts As Sci-Fi Fans Point To History

Games Workshop has been furiously criticised online after apparently seeking a trademark claim on the term 'space marine'.

Space Marines in the futuristic board game Warhammer 40,000 are a form of very powerful and heroic soldiers with heavy armour and monastic values.

But the term has also been used in a generic sense in science fiction and video games for many years.

According to TV Tropes, the term first appeared in 1932 in the short story "Captain Brink of the Space Marines" by Bob Olsen in Amazing Stories.

It also has appeared in the books and movie Starship Troopers, which was first published in 1959.

But Games Workshop, the company behind tabletop wargames like Warhammer and Blood Bowl, appears to be taking a tough stance over some uses of the term.

According to the BBC the move emerged after an American writer, Maggie Hogarth, discovered a novel she had written - 'Spots The Space Marine' - had been removed from Amazon.

Hogarth was told that the book had been removed after a complaint by Games Workshop.

It later sent her an email in which it said having started publishing official Warhammer 40,000 novels digitally it had a "common law trademark claim" for the term Space Marine in all formats.

In a blog post, Hogarth wrote:

"Space marines were around long before Games Workshop. But if GW has their way, in the future, no one will be able to use the term "space marine" without it referring to the space marines of the Warhammer 40K universe."

Games Workshop has not commented and has a policy of not speaking to the media.

But Hogarth said the response from the Internet had been "totally overwhelming".

She said more than 50,000 people had read her blog about the situation in 24 hours, and added that she was "deeply moved" by the support.

On Twitter fans of sci-fi - and even fans of Games Workshop itself - came out in defence of the wider use of the term, including cult celebrity Neil Gaiman.

There has also been a Facebook page set up in support of Hogarth ('The Space Marine Liberation Front') and fans have been buying her book to support the campaign.