"You hereby grant CCP an exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, irrevocable, assignable, royalty-free license, fully sub-licensable through multiple tiers, to exercise all intellectual property and other rights, in and to all or any part of your User Content, in any medium now known or hereafter developed."
- Eve® Online End User License Agreement
You'll recall we discussed what the transition of The Mittani from an in-game character to a corporate trademark in terms of Mittens as an entity independent from The Mittani®, the trademark for the eponymous Eve website TheMittani.com.
Now, if you've been paying attention you'll note that TheMittani.com doesn't restrict itself to Eve-specific content. Articles about a other online games have gotten play on TheMittani, such as the recent articles on MechWarrior online. There are book reviews of various stripes, few of them directly to do with Eve. The editors obviously are not chaining themselves to the decks of CCP's ship. It's no secret that they intend to diversify their content, with hopes of becoming a player in the larger online gaming media community. Slow and steady growth beginning with the ready-made Eve audience as content providers are discovered or step up is a rood, low risk business plan. In time I expect to see Eve Online become a subset (albeit an important one) of TheMittani® brand content.
TheMittani®, as a profit-making venture using Eve copyrighted content, such as logos and artwork, will be paying the well defined fees for using CCP intellectual content on monetized fan sites. But if one day TheMittani® becomes a going concern in the online gaming press, their content and influence extending far beyond Eve, and a piece of TheMittani® begins to have meaningful cash or influence value, CCP could decide to point out that it owns one of TheMittani®'s key assets: Its name.
Who owns your in-game name? CCP says it does (see above).
For example, let's say Rixx Javix makes bank selling Jixx Javix® masks and branded cod-pieces. And let's say he is then approached by Disney® who want to buy the rights to Rixx Javix® (in order to star the rascal as an interstellar pirate/anarchist in their next Star Wars movie). At that point, with vast fortunes on the table, CCP could step in and point out that Rixx Javix was originally developed by the player for Eve Online using CCP assets. Thus, CCP being the owner of all Eve online content (you read the license agreement when you signed up, didn't you?), Disney® must negotiate solely with CCP for rights to the Rixx Javix® character. Then they turn to Rixx himself and demand their share of the profits from his masks and codpiece business.
Or let's say Mat Westhorpe of Freebooted writes a novel featuring Seismic Stan that is so screamingly popular it becomes an international best-selling series. The release of each book is more anticipated and published with more fanfare than the last. Neil Gaiman contracts to do the graphic novel. James Cameron demands a screenplay. Mat's wife grudgingly admits his time playing Eve might (possibly) have been less than an utter waste. And then, as with Rixx, CCP quietly says 'ahem' and holds out a hand for a majority slice of the Freebooted pie. Because, after all, Seismic Stan is CCP intellectual property.
See? A few random synapses fire and all of a sudden I'm raining on everybody's parade. It's a gift.
However the law being what it is, and international intellectual property law being even moreso, it will take a more lawyerly person than myself to answer whether and where CCP's claim to your character's name would stick in a court of law when real money is on the table. So, if you're getting ready to shred that 600 page magnum opus starring your Eve character into the shredder, hold off until you've had a qualified IP lawyer look things over.
In the meantime, I've no doubt TheMittani®'s board of directors have thought all this through, and anticipated the potential difficulties of their brand name being owned by CCP. They've probably already come up with a legal remedy acceptable to both parties. The ink on such an agreement is likely long dried ere now. Nothing to see here, move along. These aren't the 'droids you're looking for.
Or so one might hope.