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Copyright on minimalist shapes in games

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Good evening,

 

I've checked the FAQ, but didn't quite find what i was looking for.

 

I am about to release a game, but there is one issue.

 

Graphics i made myself are quite... simplistic and minimalist. And here is the issue. Copyright. 

Imagine a blue square, with black dot at the center, and black border around it.

My graphics consist of such simple elements, and the question is, are such graphics copyrighted by someone? Is it safe to release game with such minimalist shapes? 

 

If i get cease and desist letter, will it be enough for me to just add some stylish black stripes to that square, in order to avoid the lawsuit? Only interested in USA Law at this point, because google play plays only by its law.

 

I am asking, because some idiot in my country managed to copyright black shape of flying moth (facepalm)

Edited by Sollum

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You are unlikely to get a copyright infringement claim against a circle or a square. 

 

You might end up with a trademark or trade dress infringement claim if your stylized shapes are sufficiently similar to another game's stylized shapes. 

 

I think that the "shape of a flying moth" would be covered under trademark, not copyright, and such trademarks are quite common. For example of how common it is, searching TESS (the US federal trademark registry) shows over 500 active trademarks on the letter "Q" by itself, just a stylized single letter. 

 

If you are concerned enough to ask or to lose sleep over it, it is probably something you should ask your local business lawyer. They can look over details we don't have access to, and describe your actual risks and their associated costs.

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Thanks!

 

I will do some "ask a lawyer" later this week.

 

In the mean time, i did some research and found out that it might be possible to skip over Google Play, so US law wont work on me. Unless of course, owners of trademark have it trademarked in "The Madrid Protocol". Found out about it on http://www.4trademark.com/faqs.html.

 

http://www.wipo.int/madrid/en/

Tho it feels like punishment through this trademark institution would be REALLY painful...

Edited by Sollum

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Tho it feels like punishment through this trademark institution would be REALLY painful...

That is the reason for the general advice.  It is both simple and clear:  Create your own stuff.  Don't copy other people's stuff, be creative and make your own.

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Good day,

 

Main thing i found out - lawyers are expensive as hell. 

 

Another thing i found out - its very damn complicated. But from what i was told, i would be given a lawsuit by EU law in my country (since its a part of EU), so no Guantanamo :D

 

It's so damn frustrating, but at the same time makes sense. That's the reason why some games are released only in Japan, for example Super Robot War series. Some of the games are only Japan exclusive, because outside of japan, other companies have rights to mechas. 

 

So in order to avoid accidental infringement of trademark, i will simply add some stylish stripes to my quads...

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