It is possible the upcoming release of Harebrained Schemes' crowdfunded strategic BattleTech and MechWarrior Online might be in danger. Harmony Gold, the owners of Japanese anime series Robotech, have filed a lawsuit against both Harebrained Schemes and Piranha Games (developers of MechWarrior Online) as well as BattleTech franchise owner Jordan Weisman, for copyright infringement. That's the worst kind of infringing.
The filing was dated March 2017 but has only recently been spotted by fans on the BattleTech forums. The copyright claim was filed after BattleTech was successfully funded on Kickstarter in February to the tune of $2,785,537.13 with 41,733 backers.
Harmony Gold posted a lot of comparison images between BattleTech and MechWarrior Online's concept art and Robotech designs. Most show very little similarity, at least on the side of Harebrained Schemes who seem to have tried to avoid immediate comparisons:
Whereas with others on the MechWarrior Online side they kind of have a point:
Harmony Gold makes a direct comment about Piranha Games president Russ Bullock, suggesting that this was done deliberately.
"Despite Mr. Bullock’s admission that Piranha Games does not have the right to use Harmony Gold’s copyrighted Robotech designs, Piranha Games is doing exactly that without Harmony Gold’s permission. Piranha Games operates a website for its MechWarrior Online game at www.mwomercs.com. On this site, Piranha Games displays the following images of robot warriors that infringe Harmony Gold’s copyrights and that appear to be used in the MechWarrior Online game."
Nevertheless comparing two franchises where characters in giant mech suits fight each other there are bound to be similarities, especially as there is only a certain amount of designs you can have with big robot mechs.
Apparently Harmony Gold have been at war with the BattleTech franchise since the 90s, although sadly we are lead to believe that neither side jumped into walking armoured war machines and attacked each other with rockets and laser rifles. Instead Harmony Gold accusing BattleTech's original creators FASA of stealing the visual design of Robotech (or Macross as it is called in Japan, which we thought was a motorcycle game) for their initial line of BattleMechs. This line were withdrawn and called 'the Unseen', who nearly returned in 2009 but yet another Harmony Gold intervention saw them being pulled yet again. It's a wonder MechWarrior got made at all.
All we can do is hope that this will not affect Harebrained Schemes and that BattleTech will be allowed to continue. We're sure at least 41,733 people agree with us.