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THE CUTTING EDGE / CYBERNEWS

Lockheed Fires Reverse Thrusters in 'Flight-Sim' Dispute

Games: Aerospace giant will not pursue exclusive deal with firm for F-22 Raptor rights.

June 09, 1997|MARK GLASER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In a move that brought relief to the computer gaming community, Lockheed Martin Corp. said it has reversed ground and will not pursue an exclusive contract with a flight-simulation game company for the F-22 Raptor's name and images.

The action stems from a request last month by the Lockheed Skunkworks division for an unprecedented contract with Calabasas-based NovaLogic for the rights to the jet's name and images. In addition, Lockheed sent a cease- and-desist letter to competing game company Interactive Magic of Research Triangle Park, N.C. After receiving the letter, Interactive Magic executives, fearing such a deal would cause monopolies in the flight-simulation arena, set up a forum on the Internet. Gamers were furious, and many sent notes of protest to Lockheed and NovaLogic.

In response, the Air Force, which oversees production of the newest fighter jet, made a statement last week that the name "F-22 Raptor" was in the public domain and that unclassified images and information should remain that way. After an internal meeting, the aerospace giant seconded most of the Air Force's opinions.

"We won't license the trademarks or logos associated with the F-22 fighter without consultation with the U.S. Air Force," said Ray Crockett, director of communications at Lockheed. "And there won't be any exclusive contracts regarding the Raptor or any other projects."

Lockheed will continue to provide public information to any game maker, as well as toy model companies, in order to have widespread use of its images. Crockett said Lockheed might still charge a small, as yet undetermined, licensing fee--not as a source of revenue, but to ensure high-quality games.

Lt. Col. Napoleon Byars, chief of Air Force public affairs, was encouraged by the news of Lockheed's reversal. "We haven't received an official statement from Lockheed yet, but we'd like to see as much in the public domain," Byars said.

In the last few weeks, many on the Internet forum were decidedly hostile to any restriction of public information on the state-of-the-art jet. When Lockheed's latest statement reached Interactive Magic Chairman "Wild Bill" Stealey, he claimed victory for gamers.

"We were glad that Lockheed and the Air Force decided that all non-classified information regarding the F-22 Raptor should remain free and open to all computer game companies," Stealey said. "This is great news for flight-simulation enthusiasts around the world."

Interactive Magic will release its game, F-22, in the next couple of weeks as planned. It dropped the "Raptor" because of conflicts with an already-released game by Apogee. Apogee had asked for licensing money, and Interactive Magic declined. NovaLogic, which is planning a game called F-22 Raptor for the fall, is in discussions with Apogee for the name.

NovaLogic Chief Executive John Garcia said it appeared Lockheed was backing off previous claims to the name and images of the aircraft but that NovaLogic was still in negotiations for a deal for the Skunkworks logo or other Lockheed data.

*

Mark Glaser writes the Cybertainment column for the Thursday Calendar section. He can be reached at mcglaze@aol.com

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