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ioannis

Company Name / Game Titles trademark?

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My question is simple but it propably has a quite complex answer.


Is it possible to create a new company with the same name after one has stopped doing business ?
I have the same question about clones or similar names of older games.

How can I make sure I can use the trademark without problems?

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If you want to be [i]sure [/i]to have as few problems as possible[i]: [/i]ask a lawyer. Also, just because a business stops doesn't mean it's registered trademarks and assorted are abandoned as well; in fact, it's usually the opposite. Other than that, [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abandonware"]check out this article on abandonware[/url] and do some research on the subject -- it's quite complex and depends very much on the specific circumstances. Assuming that neither the copyright nor the trademark were ever bought up and are truly left abandoned, you should be okay moving forward -- take that with the consideration that [i]I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice...[/i]

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"Is it possible to create a new company with the same name after one has stopped doing business ?
I have the same question about clones or similar names of older games.

How can I make sure I can use the trademark without problems?"



Why do you want to do this?

Because you consider the IP -- the names have some value in some way which you would like to have for yourself?

Why would the previous owners of the names just let you use value they created in that way? If you generate money from that value, they're likely to want some of it, aren't they?


You're asking exactly where the line is so you can walk very very close to it. Sure, do it for the giggles if you like tension and stress in your life. But the way to avoid having annoying legal conversations is to be a long long way away from the line. And for that, you don't need to know exactly where the line is.


I'll tell you some things a lawyer will probably tell you -- making money tends to attract lawsuits. For your own sanity you should probably try and limit the number of lawsuits you get involved in. An obvious way to do this is to avoid doing things which even look slightly like they might get you sued. Every successful movie is sued by people. Lawsuits and lawyers are attracted to money.

What can you do to avoid being sued? Nothing -- well, nothing apart from "don't have any money". People will try and sue you if you're in business. It just happens. Companies like Google and Microsoft are perpetually involved in lawsuits.

You go NEAR those trademarks in any way and get any value out of them and you'll get lawyers letters demanding money. It'll just happen. The claims might vary in groundfulness, but they'll arrive regardless.

What's likely to make those lawsuits less likely to be successful? Well; the fact you've turned up here and in a public forum asked about how far you can go in using other people's IP is, basically, a pretty good proof of intent to abuse someone else's IP. The conversation with your lawyer will be privileged, but this conversation isn't. So basically, you've recognised that the IP exists and has value, you've demonstrated that you want that value and presumably for the discussion to start, you've derived some money from the value. So the only legal discussion that will happen is a discussion about who, in law, that value could be considered to belong to. Those are the WORST sort of legal arguments to get involved in because they use up a lot of time. Oh yes, and the demonstrated intent means losing gets punitive damages awarded against you as well[1].

Something else a good lawyer will mention is that you'll need to be sure that any possible benefit of this course of action outweighs the cost of even successfully defending against the lawsuit. At a few hundred dollars an hour, lawyer time adds up REALLY fast.


I am not a lawyer, but I have been involved in several lawsuits in my life. Ah, there's nothing quite like that feeling of sickening excitement when a courier delivers another couple of dozen pages of letter written by an argumentative mad CEO and cursorily edited by his near-functionally illiterate lawyer[1]. And realising that the option is; pay your lawyer two grand to read it and see if there's anything you actually need to do or... erm... to spend a couple of days doing that yourself.

I tell you what, it makes writing software feel as relaxing as sleeping.

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