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Flight Simulator licensing?


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Posted 01 July 2014 - 06:12 PM

Hello,

 

I have a few guys I have gathered together as team and we all love WW2. I have titled our project as 'Knights of the Pacific'. It is a WW2 Flight Combat Simulator showcasing the air battles that took place there. I have a hiccup though. How do you go about requesting licensing for use of product names? For example the Vought aircrfat compnay name is now owned by The Triumph Group. I have sent them repeated e-mails but have not recieved a response as of yet. Is there an official legal for to fill out and mail to get ths done? Or since this is historical in context do I even need to ask for permission?

 

Thank you,

 

Isaac

 

Early box art concept (althogh the game would be desiminated digitally)

 

KOTP.png

 

 


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Posted 01 July 2014 - 07:21 PM

1. How do you go about requesting licensing for use of product names? For example the Vought aircrfat compnay name is now owned by The Triumph Group. I have sent them repeated e-mails but have not recieved a response as of yet.
2. Is there an official legal for to fill out and mail to get ths done?
3. Or since this is historical in context do I even need to ask for permission?


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2. Ask when you get someone on the phone.
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Posted 01 July 2014 - 08:21 PM

As to whether you need permission to display a real world product, it's a bit of a grey area... For example, EA used to license all of the weapons used in their games, but recently they decided to backflip on their policy and they now use real-world guns without paying any license fees, claiming that they don't have to.

 

Seeing that you're reproducing military equipment from over 50 years ago, I would guess that you'd be pretty safe from any kind of copyright infringement claims... You could get in touch with a lawyer who specializes in copyright to get some solid advice.



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Posted 01 July 2014 - 08:33 PM

IIRC EA's claim is based on the idea that guns are not the "main subject" of their games.. in other words, they don't make a game about guns so the licensed material is just part of a background.

I am not sure this will fly (pun intended :P ) when it comes to a game about airplanes.

As usual with these things, it's all about how much you're willing to gamble.



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Posted 01 July 2014 - 08:52 PM


As usual with these things, it's all about how much you're willing to gamble.

And EA has much deeper pockets, should things go sideways.


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Posted 01 July 2014 - 08:56 PM

 


As usual with these things, it's all about how much you're willing to gamble.

And EA has much deeper pockets, should things go sideways.

 

yep.. and that's also why I never gamble on these things tongue.png

 

Although, every time you make a game you are gambling.. with so many retarded copyrights, patents and patent trolls out there.. it's always a gamble.


Edited by kunos, 01 July 2014 - 08:57 PM.


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Posted 01 July 2014 - 09:30 PM

IIRC EA's claim is based on the idea that guns are not the "main subject" of their games.. in other words, they don't make a game about guns so the licensed material is just part of a background.

I am not sure this will fly (pun intended tongue.png ) when it comes to a game about airplanes.

As usual with these things, it's all about how much you're willing to gamble.

 

Found this little tidbit of info from an actual law firm. So, my apprehension is disappearing quickly.

 

http://www.bradleygross.com/2012/03/ea-sued-over-use-of-helicopters-in.html

 

I'm really loving the Outerra game engine too!


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Posted 01 July 2014 - 09:38 PM

One more thing:

 

The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors. Copyright protection may be affected if the copyright has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. Generally, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author or copyright owner plus an additional 70 years. For example, if the author is now age 21 and lives 75 more years, copyright protection would last for 145 years.

 
The aircraft in my SIM were created well before 1978.

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 10:12 PM

 

One more thing:

 

The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors. Copyright protection may be affected if the copyright has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. Generally, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author or copyright owner plus an additional 70 years. For example, if the author is now age 21 and lives 75 more years, copyright protection would last for 145 years.

 
The aircraft in my SIM were created well before 1978.

 

 

It won't just be copyright infringement you have to worry about though.  There's also trade marks.



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Posted 01 July 2014 - 10:12 PM

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There is more than copyright. Trademarks, trade dress, assorted design protections, and other intellectual property rights could all be an issue.

And as you mentioned, there is copyright. Right now in copyright the critical year is 1923. Stuff before that is out of copyright in the US, after that date it is almost certainly protected. The clock is currently paused, no new works will enter the public domain through copyright domain until around the end of this decade.


The question is best asked to a lawyer who can look up all the relevant details.

Take your list of planes and ask your business lawyer what agreements you will need. You need one if you are going to do business. You can help both yourself and your lawyer by doing trademark searches and finding out who owns as many rights as you can in advance. For normal business tasks, lawyers are often $150-$200 per hour in the US depending on location, they are cheapest when you need to ask preventative questions like this one. Take all your lists of planes and your paper trails of who owns what, and ask your lawyer.

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 05:18 AM

I have always wondered if the "let them come to me" attitude could work.

Basically develop your game using their license, trademarks etc. Then when or if their lawyers come knocking, just pay your dues.

 

I don't recommend this at all (this is purely a theory and is likely to be very unprofessional practice) but I wonder if anyone here has experience similar to this?


Edited by Karsten_, 02 July 2014 - 05:18 AM.

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 06:45 AM

I have always wondered if the "let them come to me" attitude could work.

Basically develop your game using their license, trademarks etc. Then when or if their lawyers come knocking, just pay your dues.

 

I don't recommend this at all (this is purely a theory and is likely to be very unprofessional practice) but I wonder if anyone here has experience similar to this?

They will come knocking as a cease-and-desist-type legal threat -- "Pull your game out of existence right now or we're gonna sue you into the stone age" -- which probably isn't the best place to begin negotiating your dues from wacko.png



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Posted 02 July 2014 - 01:35 PM

Forgive my ignorance, but.... Could they just make models that look like the real world counterparts and give them fake designations? For example:

Couldn't they do a plane model that looks like the P-51 Mustang:

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_P-51_Mustang#mediaviewer/File:Bott4.jpg )

 

And then name it something like NAP Stallion.

 

Unless they are wanting to be 100% authentic for the planes. 


Edited by BHXSpecter, 02 July 2014 - 01:48 PM.


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Posted 02 July 2014 - 05:24 PM

I've been battling with this very issue.  You've got to worry about these things:

 

- Usage of a manufacturers trademark - i.e. Vought, Grumman, North American etc.  This is not a good idea unless you have permission from the current holder of the trademark, and someone out there *does* still hold that trademark, no matter how old it is.  

- Usage of a plane's name - i.e. Corsair: most American manufacturers have trademarked these, so again not a good idea.  I don't know if non-American companies have the same business-minded approach to trademarks of plane names, (or the same 'cut throat' tenacity to sue) e.g. British planes like the Spitfire - unsure how safe that is to use.

- Usage of the plane's designation - i.e. F4U: this was owned by the military -> tax payer, and is therefore safe to use.  Sometimes, especially with British planes (again, Spitfire) the designation may not be well-known enough to use.

- Usage of the plane's likeness - companies will tell you you cannot use their planes 'likeness' or image - i.e. anything that looks like the plane - bitmap, 3D model etc.  I've been told this would never hold up in a court, but it is still a risk.

 

My advice (and this is what I've been told by others who have published aviation related games) is to stop contacting companies, and only use the plane designations.  

 

I have never heard of any non-US companies worry about this sort of thing.  In fact I have first hand experience that they are actually nice to deal with and accommodating / not interested in asking for money / suing you.  However I do not know about the big EU company (Airbus) that owns pretty much 95% of French / German manufacturers trademarks.  I have heard rumours that Russian manufacturers are carefree with this sort of thing.

 

This isn't legal advice, just what I have heard from others.  Maybe pay a lawyer to discuss these points.  Good luck!


Edited by xbattlestation, 02 July 2014 - 05:29 PM.

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 06:14 PM

Maybe pay a lawyer to discuss these points.


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Posted 02 July 2014 - 06:51 PM

something else I would do is check the opening screen and website of similar products: rise of flight, il2, war thunder and so on.

If you see legal notes in the lines of: "Trademarks used under license bla bla bla" you know you will have to bite the bullet.

In my experience with cars and tracks, you need perseverance, attack from different fronts: post, email, telephone.. as to talk with a licensing person.. planes, like cars, have a huge scale model market.. they are used to deal with model makers, they will have a licensing department or, at least, a guy dedicated to it.

Many times even the contract they'll offer you comes from the scale model world and has many things that don't make sense for videogames.. such as, expensive insurance.. and it'll be hard work to take it out, we managed sometimes but eventually had to give up and buy the stupid insurance.

 

I have to be honest on this.. egoistically, I hope EA succeeds in what they are trying to do and free the world of videogames from licenses... but I also think it is right to pay for licenses because the do increase the value of your game exponentially regardless of the quality of your work.. a "simulator" with a Topwith Lamel that looks somehow like the real thing is not going to be taken (and sell) as much as a simulator with a Sopwith Camel that looks correct, that is a FACT, undisputed. The same applies to every trademark content in a game.. in short you are taking advantages including other people properties and work and marketing in your own product.. I don't see why you should be entitled to have it for free.



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Posted 02 July 2014 - 07:00 PM

Trademarks exist to protect consumers from being fooled into buying the wrong product / to protects brands from unfair imitation. They're also restricted to their own particular industry -- e.g. Corsair the RAM doesn't have to worry about Corsair the aircraft.
As long as you're not trying to trick people into buying an imitation Corsair aircraft, then you're pretty much outside the scope of trademark protection. Don't use anyone else's trademarks on the packaging or advertising material for your game, as this is what trademarks are for - to show consumers that a brand and a product are connected/endorsed.
Real world usage is also commonly accepted in works of fiction - e.g. I could write a book where the protagonist drinks Coca Cola, works for GM and flies in an AirBus without issue. If the protagonist got cancer from the Coke, found out that GM was run by Nazis, and died in an AirBus crash because the plane was badly designed and built, then perhaps they'd come after me for libel, but not trademark infringement ;)
Titling the book "The man who died in an AirBus" might technically be legal (because it's a book product, not an airliner product) but would not be wise ;-)

Likewise with copyright - the aesthetics/exterior-designs of the planes are protected by copyright and thus can't be reproduced without permission. However, there's a big difference between copying those designs in order to build your own aircraft product line, and reproducing those designs in order to tell a story within a historical context... The latter might be considered fair use.

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 07:10 PM

I think I am going to see a Copyright Lawyer pretty soon. I don't want to use the company names such as Chance-Vought or Grumman just the military model designations and the aircraft itself. I really think it is very stupid they go after video game companies but not book companies. There is absolutley no confusion as to whta people are buying. It is all about power and greed, nothing more. It's truly amazing anything ever gets made. Soon the very air we breathe with be trademarked and we'll have to pay a fee to some company......

 

Thank for all the advice guys. I will let you know the outcome of my query with the lawyer.  smile.png


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Posted 02 July 2014 - 07:23 PM

something else I would do is check the opening screen and website of similar products: rise of flight, il2, war thunder and so on.

If you see legal notes in the lines of: "Trademarks used under license bla bla bla" you know you will have to bite the bullet.

 

 

None of those games have that. In fact none of them even use the company names, just the model designations. The aircrfat are a best-that -we-can-do 3D model. They aren't 100% accurate. I'd say about 60-70%. There's just to many details in an aeroplane to put into a game. So, Now I guess we are dealing with an exact copy or my interpritation of that plane?


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Posted 02 July 2014 - 07:31 PM

Soon the very air we breathe with be trademarked and we'll have to pay a fee to some company.....

Patent #US13839823: Method and apparatus for absorbing oxygen into a biological life form for the purpose of metabolism from common air samples via cyclic respiration using a plurality of organic filters laugh.png






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