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Elfblood

Name your Game...what is copyrighted and what not ?

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Hi,

 

Iam at the point of Gamedevelopement where I must decide how to name it. Working Title just doesnt do it anymore.

Sounds easy...but everything that fits the Game is already taken.

 

My favorite Name is already taken from another very small Indiegame. (this one is Freeware and Opensource, if it matters)

 

I have lots of alternatives, but every single one has been used, from CCC- to AAA Game Titles. ^^

The Game will not be Freeware if this matters..

 

So...here are my Questions.

 

1. How do I know if a Title is Copyrighted, or is every Gametitle automagical "reserved" ? I have no clue about this stuff...

 

2. Can I reuse the Name of an very old Game and add something to it, to show its inspired from this Game ? Example. Could I make a "Dungeonmaster Tactics", inspired from the 90er Title Dungeonmaster ?

 

3. There are some good sources I could read about this topic ?

 

 

Thx for answers ;)

Edited by Elfblood
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a. Name your Game...what is copyrighted and what not ?
b. My favorite Name is already taken from another very small Indiegame. (this one is Freeware and Opensource, if it matters)
c. I have lots of alternatives, but every single one has been used, from CCC- to AAA Game Titles. ^^
d. The Game will not be Freeware if this matters..
1. How do I know if a Title is Copyrighted, or is every Gametitle automagical "reserved" ?
e. I have no clue about this stuff...
2. Can I reuse the Name of an very old Game and add something to it, to show its inspired from this Game ? Example. Could I make a "Dungeonmaster Tactics", inspired from the 90er Title Dungeonmaster ?
3. There are some good sources I could read about this topic ?

a. Not game titles. Game titles are trademarked, not copyrighted.
b. It doesn't.
c. Then come up with more.
d. It doesn't.
1. Is trademark automatic? I don't know, but you shouldn't use a name that's already been used.
e. Then get clues. Google trademark and copyright. Read a lot. Or hire a lawyer.
2. No.
3. Yes, a LOT.
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=trademark+copyright

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Thx for reply.

 

Sorry I got confused with Copyright and Trademark, english is not my mothertongue.

 

In fact I did read alot, and I know google...but its seems this is a much more complicated field I thought. I have read walls of Text but at the End I still had no clue. Isnt there a "Law for Dummys" out there ^^ ?

 

How to be sure to not get sued later on. I cant just type the Name in google, and if there are no results then everything is fine I think..

Edited by Elfblood
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1. I have read walls of Text but at the End I still had no clue.
2. Isnt there a "Law for Dummys" out there ^^ ?
3. How to be sure to not get sued later on. I cant just type the Name in google, and if there are no results then everything is fine I think..

1. Then read more walls, until you find one that gives you a clue.
2. Yes. Google "copyright trademark for dummies"
3. Hire a lawyer.

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Maybe giving the actual names would help give context (maybe people might help with suggestions, too!).

I mean "Dungeon master" is a widely used term in RPGs. That's not to say that generic terms can't be trademarked, but it also doesn't mean you can't use any words that anyone else has ever used. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeon_Master_(disambiguation) suggests the name has been used in many works, including 4 computer games, and several other commercial works (not that this means one of these people couldn't sue one of the others...).

Sadly there aren't really absolute answers people can give. You can't be certain of not being sued, because someone can do so for any reason :/
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The "Dungeon Master" example is a good example of how dangerous it can be to reuse a name, though. And no, I really wouldn't recommend such a thing.

 

To begin with, there's a (TM) on FTL's original box as well on the Chaos Strikes Back box, which marks the name as an unregistered trademark in the USA. This allows them to sue you, even if they didn't (R) the title as a mark. You can register a mark, it just isn't strictly necessary for its validity (the Star Trek franchise has registered trade marks for ridiculous things like the letter "Q").

 

Further, in the UK you could even enforce the trademark without the (TM) if you have prominently used it previously, based on the "passing off tort".

 

Lastly, "Dungeon Master" is a registered word mark in the EU for Nice classes 9, 16, 25, 28, and 41. This includes photographic and cinematographic apparel, DVDs and similar, anything electronic, anything made from paper or cardboard, clothing, footwear, headgear, games, sport articles, and entertainment services.

This includes not only the possibility to sue you (civil action) but infringing the mark is also criminal conduct, and it further includes "liability for disturbance" which means that someone selling your trademark-infringing goods, is committing a felony, too (see Rolex vs. Ricardo).

 

What is truly funny is that the exact same word mark is registered concurrently by two companies, one being Wizards of the Coast (makers of D&D, 010328466), the other being Jagex (makers or Runescape, 009271008). So basically, unless Jagex challenges WotC's trade mark (which came 1 1/2 years after theirs), there are two companies who could sue you for the same word (and WotC is well-known for actually doing that, too).

Edited by samoth
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