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free promoting?

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Is it legal for me to endorse a product which I just happen to like? I know that games like Gran Turismo pay to feature name-brand cars in the game, but what if I release a game and want to put something in it like "the developer highly recommends the use of a Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2 with this game!" Is that legal? Or do I need written permission? And if I do need written permission...why? It's free advertising for them

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Original post by Funkymunky
Is it legal for me to endorse a product which I just happen to like? I know that games like Gran Turismo pay to feature name-brand cars in the game, but what if I release a game and want to put something in it like "the developer highly recommends the use of a Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2 with this game!" Is that legal? Or do I need written permission?

And if I do need written permission...why? It's free advertising for them


I would guess it depends on wether or not the producer of said product wants to be associated with your product.
If they like it they probably won't sue you, if they don't like it you can probably get in trouble.
It is always best to ask first.

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Original post by Funkymunky
And if I do need written permission...why?
This is a complex question which only a lawyer can answer for you because every case depends on how that trademark is used/portrayed.

Examples:
You make a game that runs under Windows XP. It would probably be acceptable to state that the game is Windows compatible. However, you might find that use of the Windows logo image would only be allowed if you were a registered developer or had permission from Microsoft. The above would be acceptable because your informing the user that this OS is required.

However in the case of a Logitec mouse the trademark owner might reasonable question your use of their trademark if the game is actually compatible with all mice. They could argue that a mouse is a generic controller and as such there is no requirement for you to use their trademark and that, as such, you are actually using their trademark to attract attention to your product (in other words you are seeking to benefit financially from their trademark).

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It's free advertising for them
You have no right to decide how someone else's trademark/product is advertised/promoted.

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Original post by Obscure
You make a game that runs under Windows XP. It would probably be acceptable to state that the game is Windows compatible. However, you might find that use of the Windows logo image would only be allowed if you were a registered developer or had permission from Microsoft. The above would be acceptable because your informing the user that this OS is required.


This is actually a VERY good point to bring up in this discussion. In fact, most companies have a set of rules around how, where, what colors, placements, sizes, and many other things when it comes to their logos. To extend upon this example; MS MED (Windows Embedded) has a VERY strict set of rules stating down to the pixel exactly how their logo must be placed on a given piece of real estate. If you don't follow their guidelines exactly, they have the right to request that your product be removed from production until you meet their demands or remove their logo.

The same is true of almost all major entities. What is common within the entities, is that if you aproach them properly, they will typically state these to you up front and give you permission to advertise their product(s). Basically you need to get in contact with the individual responsible for marketing and in contact with the business/legal departments. Don't simply send them an e-mail saying you want to promote their product (they get 1000's of those a day already). Insetead, send them a sample of what you are wanting to do (if its product placement within a game, then send them a copy of the game with the placement roughed into the game). Request acceptance or requrements around the placement. You will find that most companies will jump and be in contact with you.

Don't be surprised when they ask you for a RFP (request for proposal), complete it, you stand a fighting chance.

- Jeremy

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