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Is the Game Name Taken?

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Anonymous

Okay, I have a name for a game, but how do I know if it is already being used and/or registered? Is there some registry out there I can puruse to see if the name is being used already? Thanks for your help anybo

Thanks,

Carey Grayson

Anonymous
Is the Game Name Taken?

http://boardgamegeek.com has an excellent database. Do a search on the site for your game's name. Also, do a few google searches for the name with the addition of the "game" query.

Also, I would advise you not to leave your e-mail address. Besides the constant threat of web crawlers trolling for addresses to spam, it is also bad etiquette. You came to this site to get an answer so why not take off your coat, sit, and stay a while? You might find answers to questions you forgot to ask :)

- Silverdragon0

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Is the Game Name Taken?

There's no easy way to know for certain. To see if a name is already trademarked you can pay someone (usually an IP lawyer) to perform a trademark search.

However, you can be pretty darned certain (though not positive) that a name isn't taken if you can't find it in any of these three places:

http://www.luding.org

http://www.boardgamegeek.com

http://www.iSimulacrum.com/

Between those three you'll be able to check the vast, vast majority of boardgames.

-- Matthew

Anonymous
Is the Game Name Taken?

Silverdragon0 wrote:
http://boardgamegeek.com has an excellent database. Do a search on the site for your game's name. Also, do a few google searches for the name with the addition of the "game" query.

Also, I would advise you not to leave your e-mail address. Besides the constant threat of web crawlers trolling for addresses to spam, it is also bad etiquette. You came to this site to get an answer so why not take off your coat, sit, and stay a while? You might find answers to questions you forgot to ask :)

- Silverdragon0

:oops:
I'm new at this forum thing and I see the wisdom in your advice. I've removed my accursed email address. BTW, I wrote that intital query late last night and only one or two people were on and that was also before I discovered you could 'Watch' your topic for responses. Excuses. Excuses.

Anonymous
Is the Game Name Taken?

:D Thx

I'll begin looking for my name in earnest.

BTW, I went to the US Patent & Trademark website and they have a search feature there. They offered a disclaimer up front that even if you don't find a match, they recommend a search by their offices.

Carey

http://www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm

nosissies
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Joined: 07/26/2008
Is the Game Name Taken?

Actually you can do a pretty reasonable trademark search yourself. Head on over to http://www.uspto.gov , and dig up the trademark search page.

Searching here can return quite a lot of information, but it should give you a good idea whether or not your term is trademarked for this particular industry.

Here's an example ...
go to http://www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm , click on "search trademarks" , click on "structured form search (boolean)".
This page allows you do do a simple boolean search,
-first make sure you allow plurals (select "yes" in the plurals dropdown)
-enter "catan" into as the first "search term"
-use "ALL" for the first "field"
-select "and" as your operator
-enter "game" as your second search term
-select "goods & services" as the second field
fire away.

you should see a few familiar names listed there.

if you want to be a little more specific, try entering "board games" or "card games" as the second search term (that is the good/service you are looking for)

I Hope that helps.

peace,
Tom

Anonymous
Is the Game Name Taken?

TOM (nosissies)

I did as you instructted and found the name of my game!!! Here is what the goods and services were exactly: Pre-recorded instructional videotapes, compact discs and DVDs in the field of hunting game calls.

QUESTION: if it is registered, but not as a card or board game, is it (no pun intended) fair game? :lol:

Carey

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Is the Game Name Taken?

As a non-legal response, yes, it should be safe. The court generally uses a standard of "does the fact that these two things have the same name cause any confusion that harms business," and if the answer is negative then it's usually cool.

Note, though, that I didn't recommend the USPTO because as I understand it every single state in the US has it's own trademark office, and I don't believe any of them are searchable on the web. That is, there are many trademarks that don't exist in that database, so I'm not sure that a USPTO search actually tells you whether there's a potential issue or not.

Still, it will tell you if there is a conflict... just not that there isn't.

-- Matthew

nosissies
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Joined: 07/26/2008
Is the Game Name Taken?

Interesting, I wasn't aware that the state registers trademarks as well.

Going on what's available at nolo.com on the topic, it looks like you are pretty safe with a federal search. The very long link below even seems to indicate that the state offices actually roll up into the federal system.

http://www.nolo.com/lawcenter/ency/article.cfm/ObjectID/79BB0841-5898-40...

Digging around my state I found this...
http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/tradmark.htm
Seems to indicate the same thing, but does leave some abiguity.

Anyone else have more clues?

peace,
Tom

Anonymous
Is the Game Name Taken?

...and frankly, don't go for the obvious. In trademark law, the standard is basically, "Would the name you have chosen cause confusion to the consumer?" IOW would they think that 'your game' was 'their game'
...such as calling it "Somewhat Trivial Pursuit" or "Anthing BUT Trivial Pursuit" would probably cause the consumer to think that the Trivial Pursuit gang had made it, and the the game was at least related to...

Parody games are protected, and you can use trademarks pretty much to your heart's content in those instances... but it HAS to be a parody.

...ask me about a game that came out in '96 (not by us!) called "Settlers of Kentucky" sometime :-)

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Is the Game Name Taken?

nosissies wrote:
Interesting, I wasn't aware that the state registers trademarks as well.

Going on what's available at nolo.com on the topic, it looks like you are pretty safe with a federal search. The very long link below even seems to indicate that the state offices actually roll up into the federal system.
That would be great news to me! I've always felt that the pre-internet trademark system was all kinds of screwed up, as you pretty much had to pay an attorney to do a search. Maybe those days are finally over!

-- Matthew

Anonymous
Is the Game Name Taken?

The artwork/design of your game name is another aspect of trademark protection (e.g., McDonalds golden arches as the 'M' in their name)

I'm at the point where the feedback I've gotten for my game is such that I believe I'm ready to make the step of getting the name registered. Should I fork out the $335 processing fee or does anyone have another recommendation?

I've heard you can send your sefl via registered mail the complete game and it is protected that way as well. Or is this a myth?

Carey

nosissies
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Joined: 07/26/2008
Is the Game Name Taken?

I've heard from various sources that the mailing to self technique is just a myth. Most recently I heard on a local radio call-in talk show, but you can find this pretty readily online as well. Try googling for "trademark postmark myth"

Good luck!

peace,
Tom

Anonymous
Is the Game Name Taken?

First, I've gotta say that I'm not an expert at Copyright/Trademark/Patent laws, but I've taken some classes, and here is what a brief summary of what I've learned from them towards what you are discussing.

When people are talking about mailing something to themselves, they are talking about Copyrights, not Patents or Trademarks. A Trademark is basically just buying the right to secure a logo, motto, name or saying that will represent their company. This is solely so that your company will not be misrepresented or misassociated with another company. For example, if I wanted to open a hamburger stand I couldn't call it McDonnald's because people would associate the two and I would be misrepresenting myself and the obvious company. If I wanted to open a video store named McDonnald's it shouldn't be a problem, as there really isn't any confusing a burger and a DVD (hopefully). That said you probably would run into trouble if you opened a Burger King Video (unless you only rented videos from Hamburg or something like that).

If you had a company named Odwalla and you dealt with Beverages, then you might run into a little trouble as Odwalla for the most part is a West Coast company. Recently Odwalla has been expanding to other sections of the United States. If you already had the Odwalla Trademark in your State before they started then they couldn't use that name in your State. The law is much more clear with names of companies than with poducts, but it works about the same.

Copyrights are much more simple, as soon as you create something, you own the copyright to that thing. Period. What comes into question is the date that it was created and the field of influence that was upon you or that you had on others. This is where registering your Copyright comes in. If you submit a copyright it costs $30. And the US Government will back you up in an arguement. Even still, there is always the question of derivative copyrights. So, it was easy for George Harrison to get screwed for "My Sweet Lord", because there was no way that he hadn't heard "Leader of the Pack".

When dealing with Copyrights you cannot copyright a word, letter, saying, note, phrase, idea, concept, etc. This would be like saying that I came up with the idea of a shark attacking people and every shark movie would now be under my Copyright.

About the sending off a Copyright in the mail to yourself, it is an excercise in futility, as you already have the Copyright. If you want to prove the date, send it to the US Government. Otherwise, it is the whole schrodinger's cat dillema. If you open the box the cat dies; the cat may still be alive inside the box, but how would you ever know.

If you send a letter to yourself, then if it comes down to a court battle the courts will force you to open the letter to see if it is admissible in court as evidence. Well, as soon as the letter is opened then it cannot be admissible, as you now are submitting an opened letter that has no proof of date on it. Yeah, yeah, eyewitnesses and all that stuff are nice, but it won't hold up.

When dealing with games the thing to remember is that you cannot copyright mechanics, you can patent them, but that costs more than it would be worth, and frankly is detrimental to the board game design community. Could you imagine if everytime someone wanted to put out a variable hex map and some twit tried to sue them for their patent. So the US govenment is reluctant to back up many potential patents if they inhibit progress.

The ground is still hazy for game design though. In the case of Jungle Speed / Jungle Jam, the creators of the game put in a cease and desist against Jungle Jam, but I noticed it still in their new catalogs (perhaps they are only selling through their produced games).

What it really comes down to is that the board game industry is so small if someone screws you over chances are most people will know about it that are a part of the purchasing public. If some company were found to be stealing games, chances are that people would be less inclined to buy their products. So bad form will usuallly equate to bad business, and as a result works as preventative medicine.

Anonymous
Is the Game Name Taken?

Sisteray,

Thanks for wealth of information. I'd like to add a couple of things if that is alright. :roll:

With Trademarks, you mention the company name, but it also includes products as well. Otherwise, the same rules apply; as long as the products cannot be confuse with each other (e.g., Twister the family game and Twister the fruit drink) it is alright.

The name I chose for my game is "24/7." I ran a trademark search and came up with a handfull of them, but none of them were games, so I could use that name if I am willing to shell out $365.

I did as you suggested and mailed in a copyright application for the rules. I know I can do it for the artwork used in the board design.

Carey

PS, the song George Harrison was sued for copying was "He's So Fine."

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
Update

a got a good resource in my feedback box today.

A patent search engine:

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/

Very easy to use and searchable by several criteria. The patents are viewable in Tiff AND PDF format.

-Darke

(Wiki fodder)

Anonymous
Is the Game Name Taken?

So, can the game's rules be copyrighted, the board game's design be copyrighted, and the design of the playing cards be copyrighted? Or is it a packaged deal?

phpbbadmin
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Is the Game Name Taken?

Dragonchill wrote:
So, can the game's rules be copyrighted, the board game's design be copyrighted, and the design of the playing cards be copyrighted? Or is it a packaged deal?

Generally speaking, copyrights apply to specific works such as artwork on components (board, cards, etc) and the actual text of the game. It's just like it sounds; it protects your rights against people copying your works.

-Darke

Axe
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Is the Game Name Taken?

Do you need to include a copyright mark or statement? Or is it assumed (for game design, card design etc.).

Also, if you can't protect a name that is a word, how does a name like "Risk" get any kind of protection? If it is the entire phrase that is protected, can I just change that phrase and still use the main word (with a different art design)?

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Is the Game Name Taken?

Axe wrote:
Do you need to include a copyright mark or statement? Or is it assumed (for game design, card design etc.).

Copyright is automatic. Whenever you create something you own its copyright. It never hurts to include a copyright mark, including athe year of creation and your name, on whatever you create, though, just to make it clear to anyone that you own the copyright.

Copyright doesn't work for a game design as a whole. Copyright applies to artwork and actual text, not a game idea.

Quote:
Also, if you can't protect a name that is a word, how does a name like "Risk" get any kind of protection? If it is the entire phrase that is protected, can I just change that phrase and still use the main word (with a different art design)?

Risk is a trademarked word within the context of board games, and most likely any form of interactive entertainment. So when you produce a chocolate bar called "Risky" that probably won't be a problem, but when you create a videogame called "High Risk" you might get sued.

Axe
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Is the Game Name Taken?

OK so I couldn't use the name "Risk", but could I use the name "The Risk of Warfare in Midievil Europe"? In other words, if the name of my game is a sentance rather then a single word, and the trademark word is just one word within that sentance, am I protected? If not in this example, what about a game called: "War is a Risky business", where the form of Risk is changed.

Also, as a follow up, can you use a word like "Poker" or "Chess" that is in the public domain, in a game you sell, for example could you use the word poker in a game called: "Party Poker". If you can, would you be free of lawsuites from other companies that already have the name Poker in them?

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