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GimmeARPG

Is there an official list of all registered game titles out there?

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Hey guys this is my first post on these boards.

I figured beginners would be the right place for my question. Is there is an official list of game titles ever made / registered. 

 

I have come up with a game name for what at the moment is a hobby project of mine. I am happy with this name so I want to know if it's not already taken. Using Google results in various lists of "all games ever made" but they are not identical. List one has some titles that are not on list two and vice versa. I believe there must be an official list of all registered game names out there, that would make sense but I don't know where to look. 

 

Also, if the name is not taken for an existing game it could be possible the name is taken for a movie for example. I have to take this in consideration as well. 

 

Can someone point me to where I can find the information I'm after?

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There's no such thing as a "registered" title. There are trademarked names for some franchises (e.g. Madden, Tetris), but most game titles are not trademarked. Unless you are making a game that looks identical to another and using the same exact name for it, it's something you generally don't need to worry about. Particularly for a hobby game.

 

At the moment it's a hobby but I'm serious. It has evolved from me playing ARPGs for a very long time (I'm 43 years old now) to where I had a stack of handwritten notes and pages accumulated over the years with improvements on many parts of ARPG game play. I have a good story line for it and the game name is a good match for it. For me the game name was like a piece of the puzzle falling into place from where I can work myself deeper into the story. 

 

From what you say I gather that some companies take the trouble to trademark their franchises but most don't. I'm surprised because I would think companies would all be interested to trademark or copyright their stuff to protect themselves from others using their ideas or content, including the game name. 

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And, FYI, if you're worried about violating a trademark, you can search the U.S. trademark database here: http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=4802:d8girm.1.1. Other governments may have similar sites.

That only covers registered trademarks though. The vast majority of trademarks are not registered. You can slap a (tm) on anything to indicate to consumers and the competition that you're asserting that word/graphical-device as a trademark without registering anything. You can also assert ownership over a word/device as a trademark without slapping a (tm) on it at all :o

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And, FYI, if you're worried about violating a trademark, you can search the U.S. trademark database here: http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=4802:d8girm.1.1. Other governments may have similar sites.

That only covers registered trademarks though. The vast majority of trademarks are not registered. You can slap a (tm) on anything to indicate to consumers and the competition that you're asserting that word/graphical-device as a trademark without registering anything. You can also assert ownership over a word/device as a trademark without slapping a (tm) on it at all :o

 

That sounds confusing. Hodgman, if a trademark is not registered does it carry the same weight legally?

And, if I understand it correct, one could choose a game name that appears to be original but find out later it's trademarked by someone but not registered?  

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if a trademark is not registered does it carry the same weight legally?

 

I'm not an expert or lawyer, but I believe in case of dispute the one who proves they used that title earlier will be assumed to have ownership. Therefore, automatically you cannot use any existing titles. Sometimes even similar ones.

 

I remember reading a story where guy released game similar to Candy Crush and it was similar in name, later on Candy Crush came out and they started legal war. Of course Candy Crush was on losing side, since they came up with the name later, so they found another game with similar name, which came out much earlier, bought copyright for like $100 and made poor guy take down his game, because now Candy Crush holds rights to earlier title.

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That sounds confusing. Hodgman, if a trademark is not registered does it carry the same weight legally?

In simple terms, it can, yes (but not always).

And, if I understand it correct, one could choose a game name that appears to be original but find out later it's trademarked by someone but not registered?

Yep. You could also choose a game name that appears to be original but find out later that it is registered by someone but you missed it somehow. Or maybe it's registered in Italy but not the US :P

In any case, trademarks aren't automatically enforced by the trademark police -- it's up to the trademark owner to enforce their rights themselves by hiring a lawyer and threatening to sue you.
Pretty much anything can cause someone to call their lawyer and threaten to sue you though...
On the bright side, usually people start with threats -- they'll usually send you a "Cease and desist" letter, saying "Stop doing this thing, or I will sue you", which gives you a chance to avoid trouble if you don't want to fight over whatever the issue is.
 
If you're in business proper, you should talk to a lawyer about pretty much every business activity to find out how to best protect yourself legally.
If you're more of a hobbyist, then just use common sense to try to avoid trouble. Do your best to avoid infringing on existing trademarks and cooperate with any businesses that do contact you.
 
BTW, trademarks are only valid if they're being used to trade a product in the same market as you. If you can't find any evidence of a product being bought and sold under a particular name, then there's a good chance that this name is safe for you to use.

Also, if you haven't actually released your game yet, then technically you can't be using a trademark as you're not trading any products :wink:

I'm not an expert or lawyer, but I believe in case of dispute the one who proves they used that title earlier will be assumed to have ownership. Therefore, automatically you cannot use any existing titles. Sometimes even similar ones.

There's also cases where a newer brand has won a case against an older brand :(
At it's heart, it's supposed to be a consumer protection law that allows people to avoid counterfeit products. A dispute will involve both sides trying to prove that the general public associates their brand with the trademark more than the other brand.

Edited by Hodgman

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I see, thanks for replies.

 

Basically what I'm aiming for is to write a GDD. When it's done I will have to go public with it in order to find an interested party because I know there's no way I could develop the game on my own. At that point I want to protect my game name and ideas. It may sound a bit over enthusiastic but a lot of thought has gone in to it and I'm confident it's a solid idea.

 
Any people here who have gone the same route?

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