The litigation between Palladium Books and Trion Worlds over the use of the name Rift on Trion’s MMO game Rift:  Planes of Telara (which Palladium argues infringes on its longrunning Rifts RPG, see “Rifts Suit”) has moved to an alternate dispute resolution process with a 90-day deadline, according to a recent court filing. 


The case was moved to California after Palladium lost a venue fight in Michigan in June, where a judge first denied Palladium’s request for a temporary restraining order (see “Judge Denies TRO”), and shortly thereafter ruled that the Michigan federal court did not have jurisdiction.


Trion had filed suit in early June in federal court in California asking for a declaratory judgment of non-infringement of trademark, that there was no false designation of origin, and no unfair competition; a declaratory judgment that Palladium’s trademark is descriptive and unenforceable, and for cancellation of Palladium’s federal trademarks.  It argued that Palladium’s Rifts mark is descriptive and lacks secondary meaning, since it merely describes a common sci-fi/fantasy storytelling element of inter-dimensional rifts, that confusion between Palladium’s marks and Trion’s is unlikely, and that Palladium’s  filings for trademarks on Rifts computer games were invalid. 


Palladium responded in late June, arguing that its marks were valid and enforceable, and also counterclaimed on five counts, including trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition under California statute, infringement of common law trademarks, and unfair competition under California common law.  It asked that Trion be enjoined from use of the Rift mark, and that Trion be required to pay actual, treble, and exemplary damages and costs. 


In mid-July, Trion responded to Palladium’s response and counterclaim, disputing Palladium’s claims.


On August 20th, with the case headed to trial (although probably not in the near future), Trion and Palladium stipulated that “the parties have agreed to engage in private mediation and work cooperatively to identify a mutually agreeable mediator.”  A deadline of November 19th was set for completion of the mediation. 


Whether the parties can agree to a settlement, of course, is a big question, since the positions depicted in their court filings are miles apart.  But as we like to say in such situations, “there’s always a number.”