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ic0de

sequel to a game form 1981

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Me and my team are looking to make a sequel to the game "Radar Rat Race", the game was developed first party by commodore for their VIC 20 personal computer is there any possibility that a copyright for the game still exists as commodore went bankrupt in 1994.

Our game will feature significantly different game-play from the original (which isn't really an issue because the game-play in the original is hardly unique)

we will call our game "Radar Rat Race Returns"

Is this copyright infringement?

if this is would be infringement we could always change the name, would it also be necessarily to change the subject matter (rats, cats, cheese etc.)?

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is there any possibility that a copyright for the game still exists

More than a possibility, it's quite probable that the game is still protected by copyright (as well as another intellectual property protections such as Trademark).

Unless you can find a credible source stating that the game has been released into the public domain or under some permissive licence you should assume it is still protected by copyright. Given the assumption that copyright still applies, your usage without permission would indeed be infringement (even if you don't intend to make any money!) You could track down who now owns the property and try asking for permission, but to be honest it's probably simpler to just come up with your own concept instead.


If you come up with your own name(s), create all your own content, etc. you should be able to work with the same subject matter, as there is nothing particularly special about rats, cats, cheese, etc. and it is not unusual to see these things used together.


If in doubt, ask a lawyer. Remember also that anyone can sue you for infringement at any time, whether they have a valid case or not; without a valid case they might not be able to win in court, but unless you can afford legal fees, etc. to go stand up for yourself this could still be a problem for you -- it's therefore best not to take risks and avoid anything that you think might be considered copying the existing game (or book, movie, whatever).



I'm not a lawyer, but my personal advice would be to simply come up with your own name -- you should be fine to use a similar theme given that your game-play will be significantly different and you'll be creating all your own assets... ...and really, if your game-play is significantly different then why would you really want to use the old game's name anyway?

Hope that helps! smile.png

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Names are a trademark issue. Why not call it something else entirely?

Commodore went bust, but their assets certainly didn't :) I know as an Amiga fan. For years their assets were picked upon by various PC companies like vultures, but who did little with it. At some point the Commodore rights went a different way from the Amiga rights - I think these days there's a company using the name to sell modern Commodore PCs.

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Name it something different -- its OK to be inspired by the games you loved, but its *not* OK to ride the coat-tails of someone else's hard work by creating a false association with them. Give it a similar name if you want (Thesaurus.com is your friend), and market is as "inspired by" the original, and include all necessary copyright and trademark notices.

You simply don't have the right to create a "sequel" to someone else's game, earnest or not, no matter how old it is.

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we will call our game "Radar Rat Race Returns"
Is this copyright infringement?


No. It's trademark infringement.
You need to read FAQ 61. And you should read the umpteen other threads started by other people who wanted to use somebody else's IP. Just back out to the Business/Law forum and scan through the titles, click some, read the answers they got.

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If the trademark is live, you absolutely should not use that or a similar name without permission. That incldues "Radar Cat Race."

Seeking permission may be easier than you imagine. Pay National Arhcives for a copy of the bankruptcy filing. Contact the attorney who filed the case; find the current contact information through the state bar if Google doesn't work. Reach out and tell him or her you want permission to use Radar Rat Race. He or she will (probably) find the appropriate person and respond with the answer (and terms if the answer is yes).

It's probably a good idea to speak with counsel.

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So if I get this right I can't make a direct sequel but a "spiritual successor" is ok


Yes, a spiritual successor is ok, it has been done tons of times, (The UFO series for example could be seen as a spiritual successor to the X-Com games), you shouldn't use the originals name in your marketing either though. (As that could still be trademark infringement)

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