December 14, 2005
City of Heroes Lawsuits Settled
By Eric Goldman
A complex but interesting legal fight between Marvel and NCSoft, about City of Heroes players generating characters that look like Marvel-owned characters, has come to an end. The press release announcing the settlement.
Settlement terms were not disclosed, except that no money changed hands and NCSoft isn't changing its character creation engine. Based on the tone of the press release, I suspect that NCSoft will make stronger warnings to players about respecting IP; NCSoft may have also agreed to be a little quicker on the trigger taking down potentially infringing characters (all of this is speculation--I have no inside knowledge).
In any case, this looks like a terrific victory for NCSoft. Maybe NCSoft got some helpful leverage in the settlement negotiations when it went on the offensive and won a key motion in August.
From a policy standpoint, I'm glad to see this lawsuit settled without a definitive legal conclusion. Although the rulings to date largely went NCSoft's way, the risk of getting an adverse or confused judicial ruling was high enough that it's best to leave this issue open for another day.
Thanks to Greg Lastowka for calling my attention to this.
UPDATE: News.com article with some good quotes.
UPDATE 2: News.com now reports that NCSoft had a little "swagger" when refusing to describe the settlement.