If it isn’t already clear by reading this article, it should be stated that it is an opinion piece. This article is by no means based on some secret first hand knowledge, instead it is at best an educated guess and at worse wild speculation and shouldn’t be taken as gospel.
Yeah, I bet you thought I was going to say Mat Ward, well you will be disappointed, instead it is someone who had a lot more power. It looks like some time around August 2013 Gill Stevenson, the main lawyer for Games Workshop departed. She was responsible for the implementation and/or development of all Games Workshop IP defenses as Senior Legal Counsel. To get a better idea of exactly what she did here is information pulled from her public Linkedin profile.
January 2008 – August 2013 (5 years 8 months) Nottingham, United Kingdom
I managed the Legal Team, ensuring that it operated within budget. I grew the team from 1 Solicitor to 4 Solicitors and IP Assistant, introduced a case management system & raised the profile to a go-to team operating globally and meeting all the business legal needs. I was responsible for the Product Archive of 30 years of products. I gave training on Legal Professional Privilege, Intellectual Property, contract law and Dawn Raid preparation.
I was involved in negotiation, drafting and ensuring compliance with Licenses with Warner Bros and Tolkien Enterprises for the rights to use Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit novel and movie IP.
I advised the business and created policies to ensure protection for trademarks, copyright, patents, domain names in various territories. I carried out trademark searches and advised on the use of ©, TM and ®. I was responsible for sending Cease and Desist Letters, removed auctions from Ebay and DMCA reports and recovered domain names from Cyber-Squatters. Using local lawyers pursued counterfeiters and copyright/trademark infringers globally through court action and local enforcement authorities with success in the UK, Argentina, Spain, China, and a number of cases in the US, including spending 2 weeks attending a trial of a case in Chicago in June 2013.
Negotiated successful outcomes in a variety of commercial disputes in many territories, including negotiating with Trading Standards in the UK, to avoid product recalls. I worked with the Credit Control teams in the sales businesses to improve the success of debt collection and gave insolvency advice. Closely involved in the compliance and in particular reviewing and advising upon policies for handling dawn raids, subject access requests, data protection, disaster recovery, bribery & corruption, immigration, employment and product safety. Advised on sale of age-restricted and hazardous products, Distance Selling Regulations (and local equivalents), product safety and labeling.
I take her online resume to mean, she was the hammer and anvil for the current climate of fear and intimidation Games Workshop has perpetuated for the last five years. What’s interesting about this little blurb is the delicate separation of “successes” from you know what trial in Chicago. As a side note, Gill prepared GW for any Dawn Raids, which is Wall Street talk for corporate power grabs.
Now, as the title of the article implies, was she fired?
I want to be clear I have no real proof, but as a friend pointed out these certain facts remain.
First off she is on LinkedIn looking for a job in of itself tells you something, but this is what we do know. Gill was senior counsel at a company with a slew of responsibilities. Gill had been a long-term senior employee. Gill leaves the company during a recession, with unemployment at a 20 year high (UK) while having no job lined up. Gill leaves the company while an appeal on a case she worked on for three+ years may still occur. Gill leaves the company while potential settlement negotiations of said case are ongoing.
From my perspective that leaves me with one of two possibilities she was either quietly fired or perhaps something like she couldn’t take the stress and just quit. Of course, there could be many more possibilities, like her mum is really ill, or she is planning on joining a nunnery. What also makes this story really juicy is the glowing recommendation she received from one former GW CEO Mark Wells.
He wrote one of her glowing recommendations.
I worked with Gill Stevenson while CEO of Games Workshop PLC between 2007 and 2013. During that time Gill headed up our legal department and was lead litigator on a number of significant and high profile actions against intellectual property infringers. Having worked at Herbert Smith, I knew that Games Workshop needed a strong litigator to pursue the large number of infringers seeking to exploit the highly successful fantasy worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. These properties were extremely valuable to Games Workshop, not simply for its core market of fantasy miniatures, but also in generating royalty income from video and computer game licences. For these reasons the company’s intellectual property needed to be defended with a combination of tact for inadvertent customer infringers and ruthless efficiency for deliberate third party infringers. Gill was an expert in both forms of action and her thoughtful and professional approach ensured that Games Workshop’s intellectual property maintains its value and integrity to this day. During this period there was also a significant increase in the number of commercial and property transactions as Games Workshop expanded its operations globally. Gill was responsible for increasing the size of the legal department to manage the growth in legal activity and she successfully recruited a number of quality lawyers and legal assistants. Gill always set very high standards and the quality of work produced was of a very high order for an in house team. This ensured that we were able to deal with most legal matters internally and keep external legal fees to a minimum. Whenever it became necessary to use external firms for specific issues, such as in the lengthy litigation case in North America, Gill proved an excellent manager of these relationships, impressing our advisers with her professionalism and attention to detail. In all my dealings with Gill, I found her to be very open and honest, just what you need from your head of legal. She is clear and firm in her judgments and always seeks to put the company first. I would have no hesitation in recommending Gill as an excellent lawyer and colleague.
I find it funny that Gill has a bevy of recommendations and Mark Wells has just one and looks to be still out of work– not that he really needs a job. It seems like GW was looking for some legal pit bull and got one in Gill, but still Gill didn’t totally win the case that matter most, as her and GW’s hired guns seemed constantly outclassed by the Chapterhouse lawyers.
These fleeting comments gives us some insight into the inner workings of Games Workshop, especially if you try to read between the lines. Of course, we won’t ever know the real details for Gill leaving, but speculation is always fun. Going forward it will be interesting to see if GW changes any legal policies with her replacement, but sadly we may find out Gill just wasn’t shark enough.
If you want read more about Gill Stevenson head on over to her LinkedIn page.
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Rumor Has It is rated: mongering for spreading pseudo truthieness through leaks and rumors about Warhammer 40k