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CThomlison

Super Quick Question - Trademark/Real People/Character Names

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Hi all,

I have a (theoretically) basic question. Creating a MOBA game that's fairly far along and we have a champion that is a human magician. The name that I really like for him is "Camilo", based on a song from Said the Whale, "Camilo (The Magician)", where the song is based on an actual magician (http://camilothemagician.com).

 

Obviously my concern is can I actually name my champion that considering it shares a likeness being a magician and all, especially considering our magician champion in-game is somewhat of a bad magician who fails tricks. Just not sure I fully understand how real names are trademarked and how far likeness goes or if the song even comes into play.

 

Anyone have any advice? Obviously one of my steps can be e-mailing the guy and asking, but I'd like that to be an accessory and not my only option hopefully. (i.e. I want to e-mail and say, I'm fairly sure I don't need your approval legally, but I'm asking anyway, OR I say legally I don't have permission to use this name, but is it cool with you?)

 

Thanks!

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Right, I've read that but I'm not sure it covers what I'm asking. Is someone's stage name intellectual property and if I name a champion based on that stage name, how close does likeness have to be? I.e. if there was an olympic archer that coined the nickname Ashe, would he have grounds to sue League of Legends anytime soon?

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if I name a champion based on that stage name, how close does likeness have to be?

How fast do you need to drive before an officer pulls you over? How much stuff can you drop on the ground before someone reports you for littering? How many times can you walk your dog unleashed before getting a citation?

The only good answer is:  Don't do it at all.  

Somebody else has legal rights to that name, you do not.  Don't use it.

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Right, I've read that but I'm not sure it covers what I'm asking.

Okay, I added that.

Is someone's stage name intellectual property

Yes. Edited by Tom Sloper

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Right, I've read that but I'm not sure it covers what I'm asking.

Okay, I added that.

Is someone's stage name intellectual property

Yes.

 

 

A stage name might qualify for limited trademark protection, but mostly the issue is going to be right of publicity, which is a little different from traditional IP. It isn't federally protected or even protected by statute in most states-- it's generally what we call a "common law" cause of action, or one that's been developed over time by the courts. So it's problematic because it's not uniform-- limitations in scope and application are difficult to determine on a state by state basis, and it's not really a claim recognized under something like the Berne Convention, so international application is even trickier. 

In California, right of publicity extends past the life of the individual, but that isn't the case in a lot of states. Generally best bet is to contact the individual/loan out/estate if you think the person will be recognizable. 

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