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"Grenadier Warriors Rights/Ownership. The Story?" Topic


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ordinarybass29 May 2013 8:00 a.m. PST

So my recent post about painting up some Grenadier Fantasy Warriors miniatures stirred a little something up.

I received this from Stephano the owner of Mirliton

As the current owner of the Grenadier ranges, I can understand why you are confused. Perhaps I can help clarify it for you.

My company, Mirliton SG of Italy, purchased all the rights, trademarks and moulds of the Grenadier ranges from the Italian bankruptcy courts in 2003. Since then I have sold them worldwide as the Mirliton Fantasy ranges direct from my web site and through a network of trade and retail partners.

The previous owners, Nemo – Stratelibri, entered bankruptcy following the death of the owner Giovanni Ingellis. They had bought all rights, trademarks and moulds from Grenadier in the USA, including those of Grenadier (UK), when Grenadier ceased trading in 1997. Between 1997 and 2003 they reprinted the Fantasy Warriors game and re-issued the ranges.

Naturally, the fact that since 2003 other businesses have periodically used old moulds to sell products that Mirliton own is a cause for concern. Not least because it confuses customers and undermines confidence in the brand. Recently this has started again as you have noted above.

During the first such period of activity I contacted Andrew Chernack, one of the owners of Grenadier, to confirm that all rights were sold to Nemo – Stratelibri and in turn that we held all the rights. He was very helpful and his confirmation is given in this linked pdf . link

I hope that this response will help you, and your readers, understand
things a bit better."
Stefano


The email he links to does back up his story.

On the other hand Doug and EM4 have been producing Fantasy/Future Warriors figs for around a decade now as well and I don't know of any successful litigation against them.

Wikipedia says this


At Gen Con in August 1996 it was revealed that the molds and master sculpts of Grenadier Models Inc. had been purchased by Stratelibri, their long-time distributor in Milan, Italy. The rights have since passed to Mirliton S.G. who continues to produce many of the figures from Grenadier's last years in business. Some of Grenadier's artists retained the right to their work. In 2001 Mega Miniatures purchased the production rights to 180 of the Julie Guthrie's Grenadier Personalities. The production of all UK designed and sculpted miniatures are currently licensed to em4miniatures of Rustington, West Sussex, England by the holder of those rights.

The only comments on the issue I could find from Doug were in this TMP post from 2005.
TMP link

Actually, Nemo didn't have the ORIGINAL Fantasy Warrior moulds, they had the US set of these UK originating figures. We (em4) have the original moulds and masters.

So what's the story?

John the OFM29 May 2013 8:11 a.m. PST

Does ownership (or possession) of molds grant the right to produce the product of said molds, and for how long?
It all depends on the wording of the contracts, I guess.

PaddySinclair29 May 2013 8:37 a.m. PST

Without actually knowing the correct answer we have a mash up of UK vs US corporate and/or contract law, Grenadier US not being 100% owners of Grenadier UK and artists' (copy)rights within the EU.

Graycat29 May 2013 9:18 a.m. PST

Interesting. I have a signed contract from Grenadier saying that the rights to the figures I did for them (three of the Ratscum) revert to me under certain conditions which have occurred. I tried to contact Mirliton when they started selling them, and got no reply. My take is the rights belong to me, Militon is pirating my figures. I don't put much stock in their claim to any of the Grenadier line.

Richard Kerr
Gray Cat Castings

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP29 May 2013 9:27 a.m. PST

Molds (or moulds) aren't rights. They're just molds. No different from saying "I have the original manuscript copy of The Hobbit, therefore I get to publish and sell the book." Or, in a modern era, "I have original digital scans of Alan Lee's paintings, therefore I get to sell prints of his work."

Nope.

You have to actually own the copyrights to the artwork in question, and these rights have to specifically transferred, in writing, by the actual copyright holder, for anyone else to have the right to reproduce the work. Molds are a tool, not the art itself.

Rudi the german29 May 2013 11:04 a.m. PST

I know stefano and doug from many conventions. They are both nice guys…. I had the impression that doug has the future warriors/ killzone range and stefano the fantasy range?

For me was this always clear as customer….

Greetings

ordinarybass29 May 2013 11:08 a.m. PST

Rudi,
That might have been true at one point, but currently Stefano and Doug both sell both (or part of both in Doug's case) ranges.

doc mcb29 May 2013 12:12 p.m. PST

When the written record is incomplete -- and when multiple jurisdictions mean conflicting legal standards -- my guess is that possession really is some significant percentage of "the law."

Lardie the Great29 May 2013 3:13 p.m. PST

Does it really matter? its for the parties involved to sort out any problems/rights etc, but if they're happy what's the problem. After all it's been going on for a good number of years.
Graycat, may have a point (certainly in British law) a similar situation arose with Shepperton Design Studios making stormtrooper armour, Lucasfilm lawyers (motto trending on the little guy since 1977) took them to court in California, they won (not contested) and awarded $20 USD million only problem was to be enforceable they had to win in the British courts they didn't (twice) if I remember rightly. The crucial point was that the production in 1977 was sub-contracted and contracts back then weren't as water tight as I think they are now and since the manufacturers had to interpret the designs it gave them a legal claim as they created the original master sculpt, upshot is they can produce and sell (except to the US) for the full details they can be found with the force… sorry I meant google fu.

Graycat29 May 2013 4:12 p.m. PST

I do not have the production molds or master mold. All I have is my contract… and the greens.

And a casting company. Three rat guys and a riding weasel are hardly worth as much as Imperial Stormtrooper armor, but if Mirliton wants to argue about it, fine. I have no practical way to make them stop producing. I hear their shipping to the US is atrocious anyway. Beside, when mine next see the public they'll have spats, bowlers, and air rifles. And gears. Lots of gears. Rats love gears…

Graycat

John the OFM29 May 2013 7:46 p.m. PST

In cases like this, it all boils down to who has the money to contest this in court, and finding a court that has the time to hear something so small.

Doug em4miniatures30 May 2013 1:55 a.m. PST

This will probably pop up every so often I suppose. All I want to say here is that I got the (expensive) legal opinion many years ago and I'm content for us to continue as we doing.

Doug

Lardie the Great30 May 2013 2:11 a.m. PST

Doug, is it really an issue? have you had threatening letters? either way I've bought a stack off you and the stuff you don't carry off Mirliton. Simples. By the way the point I was trying to make is that different courts, different laws and to be successful you'd have to win in both courts, which would only profit the lawyers.

Doug em4miniatures30 May 2013 2:22 a.m. PST

Doug, is it really an issue?

Not for me but it fascinates some people, understandably I suppose. I know what my situation is and that's all I need to know really. However, it crops up now and then and sometimes I respond and sometimes I don't…!

Doug

Lardie the Great30 May 2013 2:41 a.m. PST

Good enough for me.

ordinarybass30 May 2013 6:13 a.m. PST

As to "Does it really matter?"

Yes it does.

Some folks like to know that they're buying from someone who has the legal right to sell. Much the same reason that people investigate to avoid recasters.

Other folks are just interested in the history and any other information about the miniatures lines they enjoy.

I fall into both these camps.

I'm very pleased with the info gained so far and now I feel that I can support both companies in good faith. Others may feel differently, but it's always worthwhile ask such questions.

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