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Intellectual Property question

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I would like to now if it`s legal to use names like borg (used in Star Trek) or droid ( Star Wars )in a commercial SF game. I don`t know where to look for the answer to this question so I am posting this here.

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I know you can't use "Borg." That's definetely copyrighted by Paramount (the folks behind Star Trek). I'm not sure about droid, though my gut feeling is that that's a no-no as well.

Anything unique to one particular univerise, name-wise, is something you should stay away from.

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I am pretty sure you could get away with droid since it is short for android, borg too since it would be short for cyborg. It wouldn't stop them from sueing though.

Second you can't give people rights to a thought just the expressions. How else do you stop people from taking your work and claiming it as their own?

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Gauvir_Mucca: thanks!

skittleo: You can`t have rights on a thought. You can have however rights on a name. A thought and a name are two totally different things. Althought IP rights are often used in a abusive manner, without them most of Game developes would have to find another job.

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From the wikipedia entry for droid

Quote:
George Lucas holds a trademark on the term "droid". The miniature mecha combat wargame BattleTech was originally released under the name BattleDroids, but was renamed due to trademark issues with Lucasfilm.


No idea about borg, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was trademarked as well. Use the words at your own risk, but if your game is successful don't be surprised if you receive a cease and desist letter from lawyers representing the owner of the trademark.

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Names like "Borg" and "Droid" can be protected by trademark, which you can search at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I've had a brief look myself and there's heaps of trademarks on these terms, you'll have to double check if you want to find a direct match.

But even though "borg" and "droid" are contractions of English words (such as "cyborg" and "android"), that doesn't mean you can use them. To be safe, try to think of other words to describe them, or just stick to "cyborgs".

Of course, you can use "Borg" to describe something completely different, like use it for a brandname for a corkscrew, as there won't be any association between the Star Trek Borg and your product. But I guess that's not want you were intending to do [wink].

So in summary, it probably isn't legal, and if it is it will be in a grey area that's best for you to avoid, as I doubt you have the same legal resources that the other guys do.

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Quote:
I would like to now if it`s legal to use names like borg (used in Star Trek) or droid ( Star Wars )in a commercial SF game.

It is legal to use any name you want, regardless of who else has used it and in what, as long as there is not a current trademark on the name. You'll find most of the names from other movies/books/games you'd care to use are trademarked however. If you really want to use names/races/characters from other sources, and don't want to face legal action, do what they do in parodies where they want to rip off lots of things they don't have the trademarks for: modify them a little. The general rule is 10%, and it's a new creation. Call them the Zorg and make them look vaguely similar, and everyone'll know who you're talking about.

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