In the interest of public disclosure here is the discussions between myself and Games Workshop's legal team. I'd like to point out that inspite of the underlying threat of legal action the representative has been quite curteous and respectful and I personally want to say thank you to him for being civil in executing a matter that could be executed in a very uncivil manner.
Enitial Contact on Shapeways Aug 15th 2012
Your Shapeways products have been brought to my attention for infringing copyright and trademarks belonging to Games Workshop Limited.
The 'Warhammer 40,000' universe was created by Games Workshop in the 1980s. The universe and its many characters, organisations, vehicles etc. form the basis for the tabletop wargame 'Warhammer 40,000'. Games Workshop has produced and licensed a huge number of products based in the Warhammer 40,000 universe including miniatures, novels, video games, art books and sourcebooks, art prints, merchandise, digital products and more.
Having designed and developed the Warhammer 40,000 universe and the races, characters, icons, units, vehicles, weapons etc. therein, Games Workshop owns the copyright in them. It is therefore an infringement of that copyright for a third party to offer for sale, possess in the course of business, manufacture or import any product based on the Warhammer 40,000 intellectual property without Games Workshop's permission.
You have copied a significant part of the unique expression of a number of Games Workshop's products. Copying of these icons, characters, weapons, vehicles and accessories is an infringement of Games Workshop's rights as copyright holder.
Games Workshop also owns a number of registered and unregistered trademarks. One such trademark is the 'aquila' double headed eagle design. You have featured this registered trademark on several of your products without permission. This is an additional infringement of Games Workshop's rights.
Please immediately remove the infringing items from sale and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm you have removed the items and that you will not infringe Games Workshop's rights in future. Please read and comply with Games Workshop's Intellectual Property Policy found at http://legal.games-workshop.com.
We reserve all rights in this matter. If you have any doubts as to the contents of this message we recommend you seek legal advice.
Group Legal Department - Games Workshop Group PLC
For and on behalf of Games Workshop Limited
My responce Contact on Shapeways and email Aug 15th 2012
I thank you for your notice. I deeply apologize for any affront. While I don't always agree with GW's business practices it was not my intent to undermine your intellectual property nor "steal" anything from you. My intent was to provide products which assist your customers in realizing their army vision. And as I've spent a great deal of time painstakingly creating each piece from scratch in my 3d software I didn't see this as "Copying" anything. I'm very sorry you feel that I've infringed your intellectual properties and will be happy to remove content you feel is inappropriate. However I must ask which files you specifically feel are too closely identified with your intellectual property. I will readily admit that all of my products are made in 28mm scale to be compatible with your products. While I can identify specific icons that and items that I've been asked to make that are patterned after your designs (generally older or limited availability designs), I would like clarification of where that line ends for my own edification. For example I'd like you to clarify if it is the icon on a shoulder pad or if it is the shape of the shoulder pad itself that you feel infringes. Likewise I've made a variety of weapons, arms, legs, female equipment etc, that are significantly different than your official designs but still use similar motifs to your traditional products. As example I of this I point to my pole arms and swords lines. I'd greatly appreciate clarification on these issues.
I will begin by taking the items which I recognize as falling into your IP down, this will include the shoulder pads with specific chapter icons, the individual units I recognize from 40k including my stealth suit and drone models, as well as weaponry directly patterned after 40k items such as the heavy weapons etc. Unless I hear otherwise I will assume this does not include shoulder pads that do not bare GW iconography, weapons that are uniquely designed, and custom units.
Please understand I do greatly enjoy your game and my goal was to grow and serve the fan base in a manner which was never intended to undermine any aspect of the GW business. The 3d modeling of my products and their subsequent offering on Shapeways is a hobby to me that doesn't even reimburse me for the cost of ordering test prints of the products. Perhaps the 3d printing process is an idea that should be presented to the executives to fill market niches for underserved armies in a manner similar to the "bits" service discontinued in the 90s.
I sincerely want to find a middle ground where I can comply with your wishes and continue to develop wargaming products to support my hobby and the hobbies of others. If we can please clarify the detail of what items infringe I'd greatly appreciate this.
PS. This message sent via shapeways private messaging will also be sent to the email address listed above.
GWlegal response by email Aug 20th 2012
My Response by email Aug 20th 2012