Copyright question…

Forums Programming Programming – Everything else Copyright question…

This topic contains 12 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  LongJohnnyE 4 years, 7 months ago.

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August 25, 2009 at 10:21 pm #216990

natanavra
@natanavra

I’ve been thinking about a suitable name for my game, and “street fighter” came up my mind…

My general question: is there a copyright on a combo of words? Is it leagel for me to use this name?? it’s basically a combination of two very common words street + fighter, so it’s possible that I might get sued for this?

Generally speaking, what are the terms of trademarks/copyrights?

Can I take the name and change to like “street fighting” and then the copyright stuff won’t apply?!

Ahhhh that’s a mouthful, but I must know trademark/copyright appliance…

Thank you people, and sorry for pumping your brains with these questions.

August 25, 2009 at 10:36 pm #258314

LongJohnnyE
@longjohnnye

You can’t copyright words, but you can trademark them. Something like street fight owned by a large company, it is probably trademarked, as it really doesn’t cost that much to get a trademark (under like $1k I think).

Even if you change it a little, you could still be in trouble if it appears to represent itself as the trademarked name (read: ‘Tris’ and ‘Tetris’).

Rather than ask ‘can I do xxx’ on forums like these (which are more geared to actually creating the game) you should really spend the time to read information available free online to get a good basic understanding of trademark/copyright/patent law so you at least have an idea of when you might need to be careful.

Also, you can look up if a name is trademarked for free. Just google a little and you can find out how.

August 25, 2009 at 10:37 pm #258315

ob1
@ob1

You can be sued for anything. I could sue you right now if I wished.

You are probably going to be in a heap of trouble if you name your game “Street Fighter”.

If you want more details… ask an IP laywer… seriously.

August 25, 2009 at 10:52 pm #258316

natanavra
@natanavra

Thanks Johnny,

I read a bit and “Street Fighter” is a registered trademark, but for example “Street brawler” isn’t trademarked or owned by anyone or even used by someone… so if the name’s concept is similar, would the trademark law apply??

@ob1 So I didn’t really mean sued, ok? the question was specific to a trademarked title…

August 25, 2009 at 11:00 pm #258317

ob1
@ob1

@natanavra: If you piss off a big company, they are going to sue you, right or wrong because they CAN. You won’t know who is right until you spent a lot of money, a lot of sleepless nights and your project is probably dead.

I used to work in a company with many IP lawyers. I took six months of IP law classes. And after that I was still asking the lawyers many questions about copyright, trademark and patents, and now I still don’t always understand the rationale behind all this stuff.

E.g. the iBeer guy was threatening to sue makers of competing beer apps on copyright grounds even though they redid everything in clean room. I thought he didn’t have a case. Turns out he does.

August 26, 2009 at 9:05 am #258318

natanavra
@natanavra

Aaaah damn it!

Thank you for the informative answer ob1, I guess I can’t out-smart the system, gonna have to find another name.

Thanks!

August 26, 2009 at 10:41 am #258319

ob1
@ob1

I think that’s the sanest way. And if you really want to use that name or a name close to it, get a consult with an IP lawyer, it’s probably worth it.

August 26, 2009 at 12:32 pm #258320

leesti
@leesti

I *think* trademarks are “class” based… meaning if you had a computer game called “Street Fighter” it would conflict with the well known game of the same name because it is in the same class (probably something like “entertainment”), but if you had a motorbike brand for example, named street fighter, it might be in the “motor vehicles / transport” class, so you should be ok.

August 26, 2009 at 12:51 pm #258321

ob1
@ob1

Honestly, being armchair IP laywers is fun and all, but here natanavra has a serious question here.

Let’s see some of the misconceptions than have already been said in a few posts:

> I *think* trademarks are “class” based…

It’s kind of true… But try to make a motorbike called Coca-Cola just to see.

“The test is always whether a consumer of the goods or services will be confused as to the identity of the source or origin. An example may be a very large multinational brand such as “Sony” where a non-electronic product such as a pair of sunglasses might be assumed to have come from Sony Corporation of Japan despite not being a class of goods that Sony has rights in.”

> Also, you can look up if a name is trademarked for free.

“In the United States, registration, both federal or state, is not required to obtain rights in a trademark. “

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unregistered_trademark

August 26, 2009 at 2:52 pm #258322

leesti
@leesti

@ob1: totally agree with you. My example was meant as a general case, and it was really off the top of my head (based on my experience of registering my company’s uk trademarks a year or so ago). Of course if the brand is globally recognised you’re asking for trouble. Although in the Street Fighter case, perhaps because it is two normal words, it might be ok(?) Upshot is, yes, get an IP lawyer and don’t just take the word of any amateur game developers ;)

August 26, 2009 at 5:23 pm #258323

natanavra
@natanavra

Thank you for all the informative reponses.

I’ll see if I can find an IP lawyer around…

ob1, so basically I can make a trademark of my own an unregistered one and have my copyright on it?

BTW, I saw that “Occuro!” the game from acceleroto is a trademark, so basically acceleroto has a copyright on the name, legally the name is his?

August 26, 2009 at 6:15 pm #258324

ob1
@ob1

Hmmm you can’t copyright a name, you can trademark it, two different things.

http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html

A trademark basically means that once one entity is using one name for one purpose, other entities cannot use the same name for the same purpose.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark

In reality, it gets far more complicated pretty quick.

August 27, 2009 at 1:45 am #258325

LongJohnnyE
@longjohnnye

I hate to repeat it…but once again…if you have a question about a legal issue…ask a lawyer. You can ask on forums like this if the answer is a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but that will rarely be the case, and almost never the case with IP laws.

If you plan to make money with your game, and you are concerned about these issues, go call up a lawyer and get a free or cheap ( < $300) consultation so he/she can tell you what might happen. If needed, give them a retainer so you can go back and forth with them.

Thanks for the correction ob1, I knew copyright existed w/o registration but I didn’t know the same applied to trademarks. Just goes to show no matter how much self-study you do, you don’t know it all! Ask a lawyer…

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