Wrote this earlier in the afternoon, but had an emergency, so just now posting.
Monster-fighter Kaiju Combat by Oregon's Sunstone Games successfully raised more than $112k in December, on their second attempt. Today, backers of the project received the following vague email from Kickstarter and I spoke with Sunstone Games to get to the bottom of this:
This is a message from Kickstarter Support. We're writing to inform you that a project you backed, Kaiju Combat - Giant Monsters. Awesome Fighting. Online., is the subject of an intellectual property dispute.
The law requires that we remove the project from public view until the process is complete or the dispute is resolved (please see our
for more info). Because the project already ended successfully, your pledge hasn’t been affected. The creator should still be able to move forward with the project (and send any unfulfilled rewards). If you have any questions, though, you can still message the creator from the project page:
Thanks so much for your patience and cooperation,
( Google cache of KS page: http://goo.gl/7qdn8 ).
Visiting the project URl on Kickstarter results in a page containing only the statement that Kaiju Combat "is the subject of an intellectual property dispute and is currently unavailable".
Having experience with the DMCA since its origination, I'm familiar with its requirements. One of those is that authorized agents of the copyright owner provide direct URLs of each offending piece of content, such as an actual image file. If the complaint was over just a piece of art or music used on the project's page, surely only that would be removed; not the entire project. Removing the entire project interrupts a lot of things, such as the facilitation of communication between the project leader and the backers via the 'Updates' section and the communication between backers in the 'Comments' section.
Interested in the nature of the DMCA complaint, I contacted Kickstarter and Sunstone Games for details. According to Sunstone, Wizards of the Coast have been pushing them for months to shut down Kaiju Combat, because of a trademark complaint, where they believe Kaiju Combat conflicts with their existing card game, Kaijudo, and is too similar.
I'm not very familiar with Kaijudo, but I do know that Kaiju is a common word that means strange beast or monster and you generally can't trademark common words. This would explain why Woc named their game Kaijudo. Because they knew that if they named theirs Kaiju, they'd have a hard time preventing other people from naming their games Kaiju. In other words, it would seem self-evident to me that the very reason they invented a word for the name of their game is the same reason they may not have any footing in complaining about Kaiju Combat. (And, yes, I know you can trademark common words. However, they require special circumstances. For instance, Apple can claim a trademark to do business under that identifier in the context of consumer technology products, but not if they were in the business of actually selling fruit.)
Sunstone Games further stated that Wizards of the Coast filed a similar complaint back in December, to which Sunstone's lawyer responded by pointing out that "Kaiju is an ordinary word, being used in its ordinary context" and, as with the Apple example above, could not be affected by trademark or copyright law.
They also posed the question as to whether Wizards of the Coast would respond with the same threat of legal action, when Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim comes out, featuring kaiju . . . by name.
Note: I was given permission to relay the situation and the statement by Sunstone as I mentioned I would like to post about it in the forum here, if it wasn't talking out of school.