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Legal issues with using real company/brand names in a game

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Are there any legal issues with using real company names in a game? Is it sufficient to alter the name and/or logo so that it does no refer directly to any existing brand/company? For example, am I calling for trouble when a monitor in my game has a 'Sony' logo on it or if the player can buy a Smith & Wesson in a weapon store? Thanks, Pat.

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Quote:
Original post by coldacid
Make it a Zony monitor. Or a Smythe & Westing.


still sounds illegal... have you heard of what happened between Lindows and Microsoft?

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'Paper handkerchief' instead of Kleenex® then [wink]
I hope mentioning that isn't a copyright infringement already [smile]

But I get the point - no brand names, not even slightly altered ones.

Thanks,
Pat.

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This is strange, since a lot of manuals, documentation, etc. use things such as "This software requires MS Windows (R) and an IBM compatible PC". Then at the end: "All the trademarks are belong to their respective owners".
How can you be sued by reffering to a product made by some other company, unless you missrepresent it?
What if I take a picture of me with a Sony monitor in the background, and use it (the whole picture) for some poster? Can they sue me? If so, how come? It's my monitor, I bought it, I can do whatever I want with it. I don't think the trademark law gives you exclusive rights over the use of that trademarked word, otherwise you won't even be able to sell monitors on Ebay, without riskign getting sued.

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Let's not forget about "Fair Use". If you are doing something educational non-profit or the work is "artistic expression" then it may fall within Fair Use. Examples of this may include using limited sounds/music in a demo reel (if you are an artist), school projects and assignments, or something that is a satire. I wouldn't be too concerned as long as you are being respectful to the brands the corporations will pay little attention to you. Always give credit where credit is due though, don't claim others work as your own.

Examples you may look to include Counter-Strike. When the game was only a "mod", the guns used the real company name/model details. The retail version of the game had to change the names to something fictional (even though the in-game models are exact replicas!)

Chris Z.

WRT the Lindows issue, Lindows was making money off the Microsoft Windows name. Microsoft was protecting their name from a (possibly) inferior product that could damage their reputation (if that is still possible :))

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Companies don't want their name put in a bad light. If you have a Smith & Wesson gun, and you use it in the game, the anti-gun nuts will go crazy over it. That isn't what S&W wants.

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Quote:
Original post by ZeroEffect
WRT the Lindows issue, Lindows was making money off the Microsoft Windows name. Microsoft was protecting their name from a (possibly) inferior product that could damage their reputation (if that is still possible :))


It's funny that the Lindows example was mentioned, since, AFAIK, the Lindows guys won the trial.

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