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A Question on Copywright

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Hello! I have a ...well, rather large indie game development team online. We are a group of die hard Star Ocean/Tri-Ace fans making a game based in the universe of Star Ocean (a prequel to be precise). The game uses around 13 names from the actual series, but the plot and story development, as well as the material used to code and create it with (including all sprites, CGI, animations, scripts, and musik) are 100% ours. My intention is to build up a good chunk of the game and present it to Tri-Ace in a package format to see if they will let us distribute it as a free game to support them and the name of Star Ocean. My question lies in this fact: when is the appropriate time to e-mail/contact Tri-Ace about this fan game? I certainly don't want to sound like a complete newbie 'hey we wantz to make a gaaaame of star ocean hur hurrr plz kthxbai!', but I also want to have enough to show that they will be honored to have such a game devoted to their name and game series. Pretty much, I'd like to get something to show for FIRST before I go in. Is this a good idea? Or should I contact first with just a brief synopsis of the game? I'm pretty confident in the fact that our game is very original in content and plot development, but I also want to be smart about this as well. This is my dev team's first 'get our feet wet' game project, which is why we're not trying to tackle a game with completely original systems that will take much effort. We want to have an easy something to show for whilst promoting a company and game we adore and take very seriously. I looked up Tri-Ace's website, but could only find an admin@website e-mail and no personal direct addresses. What would be the best route to find out how to get in contact with them? Any advice helps. We love this project and we want to see it go forward, as it is very special to us, just as the actual Star Ocean series is. Thanks for replies. -Ashes

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Original post by EkIchiGames
My question lies in this fact: when is the appropriate time to e-mail/contact Tri-Ace about this fan game?

My opinion: the best time to ask for permission would be before you've done any serious work on the project at all. That way if it is rejected you will not have lost months or years of hard work.

Chances are the owner of the Star Ocean copyright will reject it, possibly out of hand. They've got every legal right to, and they may not want free projects taking their IP and possibly diluting their trademark especially if they have more Star Ocean games planned.

When you contact them, make sure you point out that you respect their IP and ask for their advice on how to best avoid trademark issues, as that's something they will be particularly concerned about. You'll almost certainly have to avoid using "Star Ocean" in your project title.

Be prepared for disappointment though. Chances are they'll reject it. You can always make a homage to Star Ocean by making it along similar lines, including the elements that you liked, but avoiding anything particular to that work.

Oh, and if you do get approval, try to get it in writing. It might be best to send them a letter if you can. My legal knowledge isn't enough to know this for sure (I'm no IP lawyer!), but permission in writing and signed will hold more weight and will help attract people to your project. Sending a letter is also generally good because it shows you're serious.

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Thank you so much.

I've actually not much worry. The only thing we have used so far is a few character names and the name of one planet. If rejected, I will definitely just be changing the names around and having it be that. The project is already looking to be called something different in title: just Fallen Angels, or Space Odyssey: Fallen Angels.

I really have no problem at all with doing the changing of names. The plotline and artwork are all original to begin with.

I merely just wish to use the names in the project if possible. And, of course, put something about it being dedicated to them and the series, to promote it.

To be honest, I'm not too sure about how to get in contact with Tri-Ace whatsoever. They DO hold their copyright (unlike most people think, who believe SquareEnix does...) for their own games. I really wish I knew how to contact them, even if to ask.

If all that will have to be changed are names spoken, would that affect the timing at all whatsoever? I really don't want to seem newb-ish. I want to show them something they may actually consider liking. I'm not so sure a simple storyline will do the trick...

Thanks for the advice!

- Ashes

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Original post by Trapper Zoid
Be prepared for disappointment though. Chances are they'll reject it.

It is guaranteed to be rejected. They are legally bound to reject it. Not only that, but they might actually be forced to sue you for trademark infringement. International trademark law states that a trademark can only be upheld if it is actively enforced and defended when challenged. Using a third party trademark without prior written authorization is an infringement, and classifies as a challenge under international IP law. If they don't enforce their trademark, they can actually lose it. They will certainly not risk that. Maybe for a few million Dollar deal. But certainly not for a free fan game. This has nothing to do with whether they like it or not - they're legally bound to react this way.

And then there is the point of franchising. They cannot allow you to use their IP for free, if they ever plan to sell it / sublicense it to someone else sometime in the future.

I applaud your enthusiasm and dedication. However, IP law is an extremely dangerous mine field. Most companies react very violently when it comes to defending their IP. You should definitely check these laws before jumping into a project that uses someone elses IP. If I were you, I would not show them anything that uses any of their trademarks. You might end up with a lawsuit that could financially ruin you.

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Original post by Yann L
It is guaranteed to be rejected. They are legally bound to reject it. Not only that, but they might actually be forced to sue you for trademark infringement. International trademark law states that a trademark can only be upheld if it is actively enforced and defended when challenged. Using a third party trademark without prior written authorization is an infringement, and classifies as a challenge under international IP law. If they don't enforce their trademark, they can actually lose it. They will certainly not risk that. Maybe for a few million Dollar deal. But certainly not for a free fan game. This has nothing to do with whether they like it or not - they're legally bound to react this way.

I'm not sure about the 100 percent rejection rate. I do agree that the company is forced to take action if there is a trademark issue, and that the easiest action is a take-down request. But I have heard of companies giving other options available, and fan games being allowed to go ahead with trademarks removed (one of the King's Quest fan games did this, I believe). I still think the odds are slim, but I believe they're not non-existent.

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Original post by Trapper Zoid
I'm not sure about the 100 percent rejection rate. I do agree that the company is forced to take action if there is a trademark issue, and that the easiest action is a take-down request. But I have heard of companies giving other options available, and fan games being allowed to go ahead with trademarks removed (one of the King's Quest fan games did this, I believe). I still think the odds are slim, but I believe they're not non-existent.

It depends on the trigger-happyness of their legal department. Allowing the infringement carries a considerable risk for them. So even if there is a 1% chance of getting tolerated, then there is still a 99% chance of getting a CND letter from their lawyers (or even getting sued, if they have a bad day). Not worth the risk. The OP should just change the infringing names before submitting it. The worst that can happen would then be a rejection letter. But there would be no legal consequences.

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Uh...okay?

I've gotten some very varying remarks on here and other forums about game development.

Is there anything for certain about this? I know I've seen other fangames and whatnot...why are they not taken down? I simply thought I'd want to be more polite about it and whatnot without just up and going 'I made this game so get over it.' and shoving it out there. I'm not wanting to use 'Star Ocean' as my own deal. I was simply asking is it best just to choose a different name now and go original or present them with this or at least make a similar type game with similar systems, but modified greatly, and then saying 'thanks to Tri-Ace for Star Ocean which inspired this game'.

I'd call it something completely different if I have to. I don't want to be a pushover and not ask. I'm really just considering calling things different now and having it as a tribute game of sorts. The names I'm using were indeed used in their game, but also they are real angel names as well...would that be considered copyrighted to them, then?

Its getting a tad bit confusing here. Haha.

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They are by no means required to reject it, not by any stretch of the imagination.
I have some experience with this, as I worked on an open source remake of a Command & Conquer game. I contacted someone at EA, told them what we were doing, and asked for their permission. Not only did they allow us to continue, the guy I talked to actually seemed excited at the idea.

Of course many, if not most, companies won't react this way. Still, it's possible to get permission, and it's even happened on a few occasions that the company helps you out in the process!

You should contact the company fairly early. Certainly before you release anything publicly. The company can't sue you even if they are entirely opposed to it if you haven't released anything.
As for who to contact, you'll have to talk to someone at Sqaure Enix, as they're the copyright holder. It says so right on tri-Ace's website. If you really want to contact tri-Ace, then admin@tri-ace.co.jp's as good a place to start as any.

Names used in-game have nothing to do with trademark. It would then be an IP issue, and there's no legal reason that they would be forced not to allow it.

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Original post by Yann LIt depends on the trigger-happyness of their legal department. Allowing the infringement carries a considerable risk for them. So even if there is a 1% chance of getting tolerated, then there is still a 99% chance of getting a CND letter from their lawyers (or even getting sued, if they have a bad day). Not worth the risk. The OP should just change the infringing names before submitting it. The worst that can happen would then be a rejection letter. But there would be no legal consequences.

I quite agree with that. Plus it makes it look like you understand the issue from the company's point of view.

Quote:
Is there anything for certain about this? I know I've seen other fangames and whatnot...why are they not taken down? I simply thought I'd want to be more polite about it and whatnot without just up and going 'I made this game so get over it.' and shoving it out there. I'm not wanting to use 'Star Ocean' as my own deal. I was simply asking is it best just to choose a different name now and go original or present them with this or at least make a similar type game with similar systems, but modified greatly, and then saying 'thanks to Tri-Ace for Star Ocean which inspired this game'.

With fan games, you just don't know why they are there. Maybe they've got permission, but I suspect usually it's because the IP owner just doesn't know about them. Maybe they unofficially know about the projects, but know that the vast majority of these fan games never see the light of day.

The big, big danger about just going ahead with a fan game without solid permission is that if you're one of few that actually finishes the project and it's something wonderful that every fan would want to play, then you're now big enough to make a splash on the internet. The copyright owners will now hear about you, and all they have to do to kill the project is send you a cease and desist letter. There have been fan projects that have taken many man-years of work to the point of completion or almost completion only to get sunk this way.

If it's an option to go original and make a Star-Ocean-like-but-not-actually-contain-anything-from-Star-Ocean game, then I'd take it. Not only will you be in a much stronger position legally, you've got far more options to you when you complete the game. If the game is genuinely good, you might be able to sell it - which is something you will never be able to do using any form of the Star Ocean IP.

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Original post by EkIchiGames
Is there anything for certain about this? I know I've seen other fangames and whatnot...why are they not taken down?

Some companies don't know about it. Some don't care. The difference is that they can always claim they never knew about it. If you "don't know" about a challenge to your IP, you don't have to defend it (and pay legal fees, get bad press, etc). However, what you want to do, ie. telling them that you are infringing their trademarks, is running into an open knife. If there is an actual trace about them knowing, they cannot just play dumb and ignore it. They have to act.

But even not asking is not a guarantee. If they stumble upon it, and don't like it, they can still take legal action against you.

Quote:

I was simply asking is it best just to choose a different name now and go original or present them with this or at least make a similar type game with similar systems, but modified greatly, and then saying 'thanks to Tri-Ace for Star Ocean which inspired this game'.

Use a different name. Don't mention any of their trademarked names, and you should be fine.

Quote:

The names I'm using were indeed used in their game, but also they are real angel names as well...would that be considered copyrighted to them, then?

Names cannot be "copyrighted", they're trademarked. That's a big difference. Now, trademarks are only valid in certain circumstances and/or domains. Some names cannot be trademarked, others can. It also depends on local legislation. This whole domain is very complex, that's why there are lawyers specialized in it :)

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Original post by DeathRay2K
The company can't sue you even if they are entirely opposed to it if you haven't released anything.

Actually, yes, they can.

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Original post by DeathRay2K
Names used in-game have nothing to do with trademark. It would then be an IP issue, and there's no legal reason that they would be forced not to allow it.

Nonsense. You have no idea what you are talking about.

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Thanks.

I think I may consider changing the names, even slightly. I'm still not so sure about the common angel names (which take up 10 of the 13 names I use...). because I've seen so many games with Lucifer, Metatron, and Gabriel angels that have nothing to do with Star Ocean and yet they are the exact names used in Star Ocean.

I may change the names to different ones, then present. That way I'm safe on both sides. If they like it, I can always change the names back to Star Ocean: Fallen Angels.

Even if this were to become popular (it kind of already is truth be told), I'd not want to sell for money even if it is just a tribute. It still feels wrong in a way. I simply wanted to attract more fans to the Star Ocean series, because I genuinely feel that it is a series that is underrated because of all of the mainstream piles of dung like Fail/Final Fantasy and whatnot. It is a real shame... I've stepped out in multiple places to advert for Star Ocean and I will continue to try to attract as much attention to that series as possible in any way I'm allowed to. Its a gem that deserves to be fancied.

If you haven't played it, I suggest picking up Second Evolution when it hits later on this month/early next month. The second game is the best...it has really inspired me and was the defining game that made me really want to persue a career in game designing.

- Ashes

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Original post by EkIchiGames
I think I may consider changing the names, even slightly.

Keep in mind that trademarks can also be enforced over names that look or sound similar to the original name !

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Original post by EkIchiGames
I may change the names to different ones, then present. That way I'm safe on both sides. If they like it, I can always change the names back to Star Ocean: Fallen Angels.

Yes, that's possible. However, make sure to get written permission from them before doing so.

Quote:

Even if this were to become popular (it kind of already is truth be told), I'd not want to sell for money even if it is just a tribute. It still feels wrong in a way. I simply wanted to attract more fans to the Star Ocean series, because I genuinely feel that it is a series that is underrated because of all of the mainstream piles of dung like Fail/Final Fantasy and whatnot. It is a real shame... I've stepped out in multiple places to advert for Star Ocean and I will continue to try to attract as much attention to that series as possible in any way I'm allowed to. Its a gem that deserves to be fancied.

Well, it's nice that you are so dedicated to it. Companies should definitely value customers like you. However, IP law doesn't make a difference between free versus commercial, or between someone trying to help versus hurt the company. It still is an illegal infringement.

Good luck with your game !

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Original post by Yann L
Some companies don't know about it. Some don't care. The difference is that they can always claim they never knew about it. If you "don't know" about a challenge to your IP, you don't have to defend it (and pay legal fees, get bad press, etc). However, what you want to do, ie. telling them that you are infringing their trademarks, is running into an open knife. If there is an actual trace about them knowing, they cannot just play dumb and ignore it. They have to act.

But even not asking is not a guarantee. If they stumble upon it, and don't like it, they can still take legal action against you.

That's really not true. A company doesn't have to act on IP infringers. The reason they usually do is simply to avoid having to compete with a free version of their own game.

Quote:
Original post by Yann L
Use a different name. Don't mention any of their trademarked names, and you should be fine.

As I already said, the contents of a game, story (including names of planets and stuff like that), gameplay, etc. is all intellectual property.
And anyways, if you're really concerned about trademarks, just look them up! Check if they are, in fact, registered trademarks. If they aren't the company has a significantly lower chance of succeeding in legal action. Especially if the names aren't original, as in this case (Named after angels).

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Original post by Yann L
Actually, yes, they can.

Of course they can try, but it would be thrown out without any evidence of an IP violation.

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Original post by Yann L
Nonsense. You have no idea what you are talking about.

I researched this stuff when I was working on a Command & Conquer clone.

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Original post by DeathRay2K
That's really not true. A company doesn't have to act on IP infringers.

Trademark-infringers. IP is a wide field, and trademark is only one part of it. While companies do not have to act against copyright infringement (although most do, obviously), they do have to act against trademark and patent violations. As I mentioned above, not doing so can result in the trademark to become null and void, because it automatically falls into public domain if not actively enforced. Just search Google on the subject. Or ask a lawyer. You might be surprised.

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Original post by DeathRay2K
As I already said, the contents of a game, story (including names of planets and stuff like that), gameplay, etc. is all intellectual property.

No, you said that "Names used in-game have nothing to do with trademark". That's obviously incorrect. High profile names, ie. those that are used to make a direct relation to the game, the manufacturer or the publisher are all trademarked. Some companies just do bulk trademarking on every name they use and which is accepted. And so are the designs. Yes, you can trademark designs. Shock. It's called a design mark. And it can cover anything from a corporate logo to a character in a video game.

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Original post by DeathRay2K
I researched this stuff when I was working on a Command & Conquer clone.

We have researched this while working on a multi-million Dollar project, and contracted several international law firms on it.

Anyway, this really goes a bit offtopic.

[Edited by - Yann L on January 16, 2009 7:45:50 PM]

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Original post by Yann L
No, you said that "Names used in-game have nothing to do with trademark". That's obviously incorrect. High profile names, ie. those that are used to make a direct relation to the game, the manufacturer or the publisher are all trademarked.
I think this part deserves more attention:
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I'm still not so sure about the common angel names (which take up 10 of the 13 names I use...).
I can pretty much guarantee that Tri-Ace, Square-Enix, or any other game development company do not have the names Lucifer, Metatron, and Gabriel trademarked. The tricky part, however, is that you should try to make your implementation of those characters look significantly different. I'm not a lawyer, but I imagine they could still nail you if they're close.

Also, I would think sending them a letter might be better than an email, and perhaps invite them to reply by email if they so desired. I found their address here (note, IGN lists Square Enix's address), you'd just have to address it to the attention of the right person or group. I'm not sure who that would be:

Attn: Legal Department?
Attn: Administrative Affairs Department? (I saw a department by this name on their website)
Attn: CEO Yoshiharu Gotanda?

Good luck, I hope it works out.

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Original post by lmelior
I can pretty much guarantee that Tri-Ace, Square-Enix, or any other game development company do not have the names Lucifer, Metatron, and Gabriel trademarked.

True, but since I don't know the game, I can't say how many other, made-up names they might use (which could definitely be trademarked). That's upon the OP to find out.

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Original post by lmelior
The tricky part, however, is that you should try to make your implementation of those characters look significantly different. I'm not a lawyer, but I imagine they could still nail you if they're close.

Correct. The key point is to avoid confusion with their product. There must be no conceivable way for the OPs product to be confused as being related to the trademark holders product by a typical customer/user. Even if some of the names the OPs reuses are not trademarked, their mere usage in a similar scenario and/or design could be interpreted as a violation, assuming the design is protected (which it almost certainly is).

Oh, IANAL, of course. But I have lots of them around me all the time [wink]

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Re: the names Metatron, Lucifer, Gabriel-- public domain. They are characters from the Bible, folks. Even if you're not religious, watching Kevin Smith's Dogma should at least give you some idea as to where these characters came from. So it is highly doubtful that those particular angels will lead to legal problems unless you substantially take from the storyline/plot of the Star Ocean/Tri-Ace games, or unless you're sued by God. To the best of my knowledge God has only been a defendant in lawsuits, not a plaintiff.

No one is "required" to reject the use of anything, and licenses can be as broad or as narrow as is necessary to suit the required need. If people were "required" to reject license requests, IP would be a worthless business. And yes, this goes for trademark too. You can abandon a trademark, but allowing your product name to be used in conjunction with another product with your permission doesn't automatically null and void the trademark-- otherwise companies wouldn't get credit when their middleware or engines are used in games. You can license the use of your trademark freely. Furthermore, trademark infringement depends on the USE. There must be a likelihood of confusion as to the origin of the work. If it is clear that someone else developed the project, if it is clear that the product is a homage to the original and developed by fans, there isn't much likelihood of confusion.

The risk of a lawsuit is ALWAYS going to be an issue, even meritless suits. Lawsuits are very expensive to defend, which is why it's always best to ask permission. That way you'll know if what you're doing is a good idea.


Furthermore (while this is completely off topic, I'm addressing an earlier remark), unless you fail to pay the maintenance fee for a patent or a court rules your patent unenforceable, you do not lose your patent by failing to sue every person who uses it without your permission. Granted, it may weaken your claim if varying identical products are rampant and you may run the risk of it being ruled unenforceable, but once your patent is filed with and issued by the USPTO, it is presumed valid under U.S. law for 20 years and you can exclude anyone you want from using it, or not. I would hate for anyone to fall under the delusion that failing to enforce one's patent against a company like Blizzard means that they can't later sue a company like NCSoft for patent infringement. Patent law is VERY different from Copyright and Trademark. For example, there is no fair use exception in patent law. It is much more complex, MUCH more costly, and it takes quite a bit to show that a patent is unenforceable. This doesn't mean you won't get sued-- it just means that the patent holder can sue you whenever they want if they choose to enforce, and expose you to ridiculous financial liability.

When applying for license, be very clear about the description of the game, the use of the specific IP (trademark and copyright both) used, and how you intend to credit the content. You will want to contact the company's licensing department. This is usually a separate department within the Business and Legal department.

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Original post by madelelaw
No one is "required" to reject the use of anything, and licenses can be as broad or as narrow as is necessary to suit the required need. If people were "required" to reject license requests, IP would be a worthless business. And yes, this goes for trademark too. You can abandon a trademark, but allowing your product name to be used in conjunction with another product with your permission doesn't automatically null and void the trademark-- otherwise companies wouldn't get credit when their middleware or engines are used in games.

The key terms here are "with your permission". Of course everything is possible with the IP holders permission. The important question in the position of the OP is what happens if they do not grant permission. In this case, they have to defend their trademarks, which means at least a cease'n'desist.

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Original post by madelelaw
If it is clear that someone else developed the project, if it is clear that the product is a homage to the original and developed by fans, there isn't much likelihood of confusion.

That's a quite risky approach. There is no clear definition what constitutes confusion in law texts. This is a gray line, and entirely dependent on how the case is presented and interpreted in court. You could just as well win or lose this case, depending on the lawyers and the judge involved. It's even more risky if you live in a country with case-law.

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Original post by madelelaw
Furthermore (while this is completely off topic, I'm addressing an earlier remark), unless you fail to pay the maintenance fee for a patent or a court rules your patent unenforceable, you do not lose your patent by failing to sue every person who uses it without your permission.

It's an open secret that the USPTO is extremely generous in granting patents on essentially anything as long as you pay the filing fee. Having a registered patent doesn't mean much, except for an essentially government-guaranteed filing date. More often than not, patent validity is decided in court, during a litigation suit. And knowingly allowing an infringement over a longer period of time will considerably weaken your position. I was personally in this situation some time ago. We were eventually able to win, but the fact that we ignored a (quite massive) infringement over some time made it very hard for our lawyers. The whole thing was very costly.

But you are right, patent law is not the same as trademark law. I shouldn't have mentioned it above, since it doesn't really pertain to the OPs situation at all.

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Original post by Yann L

The key terms here are "with your permission". Of course everything is possible with the IP holders permission. The important question in the position of the OP is what happens if they do not grant permission. In this case, they have to defend their trademarks, which means at least a cease'n'desist.


I was referring to your earlier statement: "It is guaranteed to be rejected. They are legally bound to reject it. Not only that, but they might actually be forced to sue you for trademark infringement." No one is legally bound to reject a license request, which is exactly what you said, and exactly what I refuted. Whether you intended to mean that or not, that's how it came out. OP asked "should I ask permission," and your response was, "It is guaranteed to be rejected," if they ask permission. And that is wrong.

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That's a quite risky approach. There is no clear definition what constitutes confusion in law texts. This is a gray line, and entirely dependent on how the case is presented and interpreted in court. You could just as well win or lose this case, depending on the lawyers and the judge involved. It's even more risky if you live in a country with case-law.


Not really true. Most countries have fair comment/fair use laws for trademark, which permits people to refer to a trademarked product or service. This is called "nominative" use. It allows people to comment, criticize, or compare trademarked items, companies, or products. For instance, if a company sues the New York Times for trademark infringement when the NYT uses the name of the company in an article and is actually referring to a product that company makes, NYT has an absolute defense in the form of nominative use. I did, however, caveat that lawsuits, even meritless ones, are always a risk and usually costly. Most companies, however, will not sue for nominative use that accurately refers to their product unless the use dilutes or damages the mark in some way. Companies and lawyers get sanctioned if the suit is clearly meritless.

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Original post by madelelaw
I was referring to your earlier statement: "It is guaranteed to be rejected. They are legally bound to reject it. Not only that, but they might actually be forced to sue you for trademark infringement." No one is legally bound to reject a license request, which is exactly what you said, and exactly what I refuted. Whether you intended to mean that or not, that's how it came out. OP asked "should I ask permission," and your response was, "It is guaranteed to be rejected," if they ask permission. And that is wrong.

Note that in the OPs case, this is not a license request. In principle, he already infringed on their trademarks. He is requesting permission a-posteriori, which brings the IP holder into a difficult situation. If they allow it, they will encourage others to do the same. That could eventually lead to an unacceptable amount of IP violations and significant legal fees later on. While not entirely zero, the chance of getting permission in such a situation is infinitesimally small. I thus stand by my statement.

A much better approach would be to use placeholders instead of their IP, and then request a license. That is what was suggested to the OP. This way, he doesn't push the IP owners into a corner, and gives them much more options to negotiate and eventually accept the request. Once granted, the OP can replace the placeholders with the actual protected names/art/design.

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Original post by madelelaw
Not really true. Most countries have fair comment/fair use laws for trademark, which permits people to refer to a trademarked product or service.

I have significant reservations as to whether fair use laws cover fan art. This is a heavily debated topic amongst law professionals, and there are many precedents covering it with fairly mixed results. AFAIK, in most cases, the fan art projects had to be taken down. I think this is a classical situation where the party with the deeper pockets will win.

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Original post by Yann L

A much better approach would be to use placeholders instead of their IP, and then request a license. That is what was suggested to the OP. This way, he doesn't push the IP owners into a corner, and gives them much more options to negotiate and eventually accept the request. Once granted, the OP can replace the placeholders with the actual protected names/art/design.


This is what we have decided to ultimately do. The characters will be changed extensively on first use now, even if we do use the angel names to depict them. It will be presented in a completely original context in which, if the original idea proposed along with the package is accepted, can be changed back with relative ease. After reading through the responses we felt as a team this would be the best and correct way to handle this. We certainly wanted to have something done to show we are serious about the project WITHOUT stepping on trademarks and copyrights from the get go. Changing everything directly related to the mini-scenario in the actual Star Ocean game (this game was intended to be a back-story to a few characters who were not quite expended on to full extent due to their lack of majour appearance within the overall story, and fans have for years been wanting an explanation to their existence) while keeping a similar feel for the scenario.

I certainly would not want Tri-Ace or whomever to feel stepped on because of this project (why would I want to wrong a company that has sparked my passion for game designing?). After all, my main intentions are to help gain fans of the series, not direct attention to my team so I want to take all necessary steps to make sure I'm doing things the right way without causing them trouble even in the slightest.

Thank you for all of the suggestions and advice. My team really appreciates everything you guys have said here. We hope to eventually bring you a game you may possibly play and enjoy no matter what character names/scenarios are used in the final product. And again, please try out Star Ocean. It may give you a bit of insight to the feel we're trying to create and get you interested in our game , as well as encourage you to play future Star Ocean releases.

Also, I'm female. Just for future reference. Female game designers for the win. :)

Thanks for the help again.

- Ashes

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Ok that post is very interesting, and that bring me a question.
I made that game 2 years ago, called BaboViolent2:
>video
site

Then PlayBrains bought it, and now developing Madballs in... Babo: Invasion for the xbox360: site

But then, recently, some Russians made that game called Bashers:
>video

Is it possible for PlayBrains take actions against them? They are using different names. But everything, the shadow, the walls, the guns and even the minimap are the same.

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Quote:
Original post by EkIchiGames
This is what we have decided to ultimately do. The characters will be changed extensively on first use now, even if we do use the angel names to depict them. It will be presented in a completely original context in which, if the original idea proposed along with the package is accepted, can be changed back with relative ease. After reading through the responses we felt as a team this would be the best and correct way to handle this. We certainly wanted to have something done to show we are serious about the project WITHOUT stepping on trademarks and copyrights from the get go. Changing everything directly related to the mini-scenario in the actual Star Ocean game (this game was intended to be a back-story to a few characters who were not quite expended on to full extent due to their lack of majour appearance within the overall story, and fans have for years been wanting an explanation to their existence) while keeping a similar feel for the scenario.

Sounds good. Good luck !

Quote:

Is it possible for PlayBrains take actions against them? They are using different names. But everything, the shadow, the walls, the guns and even the minimap are the same.

You should consult an IP lawyer about this. Note that it is notoriously difficult to successfully conduct an IP related lawsuit when the infringing party is located in Russia.

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Yann L, I'm really not understanding your argument.
I'm talking about this case in particular, and in this case the names can't be trademarked as they are common names, names of angels.
Furthermore, how exactly has their trademark been violated just by asking to use it?
Plus you keep saying that it's 100% guaranteed that the company has to reject any request to use their IP/trademarks, but that just isn't true.

Also, this:
Quote:
In principle, he already infringed on their trademarks.
Just doesn't make any sense. If you ask to use them before you release anything how has any trademark been violated?

You're really not making a lot of sense to me.

There's one simple process that a person needs to go through to make this all work:
First, you come up with whatever idea or plan you have for the company's IP.
Next, you ask for their permission to develop this idea as a free project.
If they agree (And sometimes they do), you can go ahead as planned.
If they don't, you can give up on the idea or attempt to change it beyond resemblance to the company's work.

I really don't see why this topic is being fought over so vehemently, it's really very simple.

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