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mub

sued because game character says "I like the movie Idiocrazy"?

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I've read that it's a bad idea to use brand names in a game.

My game character says "I like the movie Idiocrazy."

Is this already illegal? or sue-able?

 

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Note: I am not a lawyer; this is not legal advice.

That wouldn't be trademark infringement as long as it is perfectly clear that you are not affiliated with the movie in any way. Whether that's clear or not would be for a court to decide (anyone can sue anyone for anything, but it's a matter of how likely they are to win).

To be perfectly in the clear, I would do one of three things:

1. Ask the company that made the movie if they would be interested in an advertising deal. Not very likely for an old movie, but if they are interested, you could get something out of it. You could even search for another party interested in such an advertising deal if you choose to go this route.

2. Put a notice indicating that the game has no affiliation whatsoever with the movie.

3. Remove the line, or replace it with mention of a movie that doesn't exist.

I suspect the main reason you see so many TV shows and video games just making up their own brands is because they don't want to deal with it. It does have one positive effect, though: it makes the work a little more timeless.

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8 hours ago, mub said:

Is this already illegal? or sue-able?

Possibly legal, also a possible lawsuit target. Details are important.

When you are talking about a thing it is normally fine to use the name of the thing. is called "nominative use". There are some restrictions, you need to keep the use to the minimum you actually need, and you cannot suggest that they endorse or support your project.

Exactly how and when and where you use the name are important.  If you don't need it, don't use it; that completely avoids the risk.  If you decide to use the name, keep it minimal and unimportant. Remember that they own rights to their trademarks, but the name is still a name and names can be used to refer to the things. 

After you figure that out, it becomes an exercise of risk assessment. What is the likelihood they'll take action? If they do, how much do you want to spend to fight back? If they keep pushing, what is the cost to correct your project?  Even a tiny legal action can destroy most small projects, so consider that in your risk assessments.

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Thank you very much for your input.

I will remove every brand, productname or anything similar from my game.

It's not worth it. :-)

 

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On 12/13/2017 at 5:26 AM, mub said:

I've read that it's a bad idea to use brand names in a game.

My game character says "I like the movie Idiocrazy."

Is this already illegal? or sue-able?

 

 

Simply referencing a product or service in context generally falls under fair comment (the trademark equivalent to fair use), but bear in mind that companies threaten meritless litigation on a fairly regular basis. The risk is minimal, but any recognizable use of another brand or product in your own may trigger someone's notice. 

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