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Is the name of my game legal?

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lar
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Joined: 12/31/1969

I'm curious, if I want to call my game "Alias", but the TV show Alias already exists, will I have a problem using that name? The game has absolutely nothing to do with the show.

Or what if I want to call my game "Cove Island" which is a trademark name under the falling category: "luggage, backpacks, duffel bags and all purpose sport bags made of fabric."

Thanks! Lar

OldScratch
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Is the name of my game legal?

You may be able to get better advice from other folks here, but this is how I understand it.

The name Alias isn't copyrighted. Nobody can own that word, cause it's just a word. A trademark may protect the word from being used on something that's a blatant ripoff, so since your game isn't anything like the TV show, then you're probably good. Same goes for Cove Island, I would say. As long as you're not trying to pretend to be something else, then you're probably in the clear.

stefu
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Is the name of my game legal?

There's a word game in Finland called Alias... It's published by Tactic and I guess it's published in some other countries too: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/3818

-Stefu

Anonymous
Is the name of my game legal?

If your game involves a gorgeous female super-spy then you're probably in trouble; if not, you'll probably be okay (even more so if it isn't espionage-themed at all).

Richard.

OrlandoPat
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Joined: 10/16/2008
Another view...

If the name is already in use, my suggestion is to avoid it.

From a risk/reward standpoint, the risk just isn't worth it. Producing and selling a game takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears. You don't want to go through all that - just to have Disney show up at your door with more lawyers than you have employees.

FastLearner
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Is the name of my game legal?

The key, as I see it, is determining who owns the other name...

If it's already the name of a game and the name is trademarked then you'd definitely be in trouble, even if the trademark hadn't been well protected That said, you wouldn't want to use the name of another game anyway, as the confusion wouldn't likely do you any good.

In the case of Cove Island, you probably aren't stepping on their trademark, and they probably don't have the money to pursue you just for the hell of it. In the case of a name trademarked by the Walt Disney Co., they most certainly do and very probably will. It costs them almost nothing to send you a cease and desist, quickly followed up by a couple of court filings, filings that you'd have to respond to or be found infringing due to lack of response.

Never taunt people with tons of lawyers unless you have your own team and a giant pit of money, imo.

-- Matthew

Anonymous
Is the name of my game legal?

First off, let me start by saying:

I am not a lawyer, nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice. For any definitive answers you should seek the advice of someone who is qualified and capable of practicing the laws specific to your area.

(/disclaimer)

I do know (from my understanding of the basics of intellectual property protection) that a trademark protects certain terms or phrases from being used in conjunction with certain types of goods or services. The intent was to allow people or companies to protect the use of a name or term in relation to the sale of their goods/services.

Since a TV show can be defined as entertainment, and being that lawyers tend to paint terms in the broadest of terms when it suits them, you may want to avoid using any names that correspond to a movie/TV show, character therein, etc. A case could be made that your game is attempting to infringe upon their intellectual property rights by using their name (even though your game most likely has nothing to do with them or no resemblance to the show). Since many TV shows and movies have been franchised as a game, the case would be a very easy one to make.

In the case of Cove Island, I don't think there have been many instances of a game franchise capitalizing on a brand name of luggage. You're probably pretty safe using the name for your game (so long as your logotype is distinct and different from theirs).

OldScratch
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Is the name of my game legal?

In the case of the name Alias, doesn't it become a lot less likely that you're trying to rip someone off if the logo doesn't look anything like the other? If someone sees the word Alias and it's not in the logo of the TV show, they're probably not going to make the relation. The point of logos is so you don't even have to read the word to know what it is, really. I'm not saying any of you are wrong, I'm just speculating.

Zzzzz
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Is the name of my game legal?

As previously stated by others I am not a lawyer, I am only stating my basic understanding of the trademark process.

The research I have done on upsto.gov leads me to believe that when somone applies for a Trademark they must also specific class(classes).

The class will limit the use to a specific area(s). You would need to search the database at the gov site and see what classes the Alias show(or others) have registered. It might be that a show like Alias would fall under class 41(education and entertainment).

If they have only registered it under one(or a couple) classes, you may be able to register for it under another class. Providing the class you need for a game is available.

Keep in mind that part of the trademark can also relate to the logo/design, so you should also look into "what" people trademarked.

Also this is reason why others(on the forum) have stated, stay away from making it look and feel like the show(or anything else with the name alias and a TM, R or S symbol).

doho123
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Is the name of my game legal?

www.uspto.gov has a trademark search. There are quite a few trademarks relating to "ALIAS," you'll have to look through them and see if any of them relate to the word in a board game.

lar
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Is the name of my game legal?

I just want to thank everyone who replied. You are guys are a BIG help and I plan to pick your minds on more topics later.

Thanks again!

Zzzzz
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Is the name of my game legal?

I have to agree with you lar, this site is beyond great!

I have learned so much in such a short time from all the people on this site.

*all emotional.... music starts playing....*
I am glad to be part of this forum!

Seriously, there is so much knowledge in this site that it can be scary!

Scurra
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Is the name of my game legal?

Zzzzz wrote:

Seriously, there is so much knowledge in this site that it can be scary!

Yeah, you'd almost think we knew what we were talking about...

Zzzzz
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Is the name of my game legal?

Scurra wrote:
Zzzzz wrote:

Seriously, there is so much knowledge in this site that it can be scary!

Yeah, you'd almost think we knew what we were talking about...

8^)

Anonymous
Is the name of my game legal?

another reason to shy away from the name "Alias" -- there was in fact a video game (based on the show) that used the "a" word in its title.

Now, you've got two games using "alias" as a name -- that opens up some interesting lawyering possibilities.

Anonymous
Is the name of my game legal?

it shouldn't matter that you have 2 games with the same name... being a game is just a overall category.

Now if you had 2 computer games with the same name, they are more likely to be in violation.

But since one is a computer game, and the other is a boardgame, with nothing similar to the computer game or the tv show, then there should never be a problem.

A friend of mine, started a computer business. Got a cease and desist letter from another computer business that had the name for much longer. Now if my friend had not started a computer business, but a floral service busines, then they are not similar enough to warrant a cease and desist.

Same goes for Alias... as it's a common word, it can't be trademarketed.. only the logo can.
So do not use the logo, and you should be fine.

TargetBoy
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Joined: 08/13/2008
Is the name of my game legal?

FastLearner wrote:
In the case of Cove Island, you probably aren't stepping on their trademark, and they probably don't have the money to pursue you just for the hell of it. In the case of a name trademarked by the Walt Disney Co., they most certainly do and very probably will. It costs them almost nothing to send you a cease and desist, quickly followed up by a couple of court filings, filings that you'd have to respond to or be found infringing due to lack of response.

I remember hearing that the makers of the video game "Tropico" originally wanted to call it "Bananna Republic", but they got a nastygram from the clothing maker of the same name.

CDRodeffer
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Joined: 08/04/2008
Re: Is the name of my game legal?

lar wrote:
I'm curious, if I want to call my game "Alias"

You could call it: "/etc/aliases" and probably be pretty safe. But then someone would expect a game based on *nix or something. On second thought, some people might not like that name, either. Sigh.

lar wrote:
Or what if I want to call my game "Cove Island" which is a trademark name [....]

How about "That Game about the Island, You Know, the one with the Cove"?

Just kidding! Good luck with your game, whatever you decide to call it.

Clark

Axe
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Is the name of my game legal?

A new poster here.

My understanding is that you could still use Alias if you include it in a longer title (even if there already is another Alias out there). Your designer could make "Alias" the prominant word.

Examples of this exist. Every possible combination of words along with "dungeon" seem to have been used. Yet "dungeon" was a game put out by TSR way back when. Just to be on the safe side I'd suggest using the name "Alias, the game of..." as your official name, so that it appears on everything (kind of like: Risk the game of world domination).

Just remember, even if your 100% right legally, your still going to have huge expenses if your ever taken to court. Ask Gary Gygax the creator of Dungeons and Dragons how much fun it is to have to get dragged into court. He ended up bailing out, even though he probably would have won.
The lawsuit epidemic almost makes it paramount you make up a word like Tri-Bond did. Its just gotten really pathetic.

larienna
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Is the name of my game legal?

I have heard that "Legend of the 5 rings" was sue by the olympic comitee. So they had to change their name for "Legend of the Rings". Totally stupid on my point of view since the 5 ring philosophy was born before the modern olympics.

I also heard that coca-cola protected the word "always". Again, totally stupid.

Anyways, I found this name copyrighting a bit stupid especially when it is only made of common words. For example, there is so much fantasy medieval games, that if you want to use one or more common word to make a name, you will probably have a conflict somewhere since all the possible permutations are probably exhausted. I once wanted to trademark my games on "Shadow Games", but but when searching on the net I realised that it was the name of a book.

On my point of view, we should not be able to sue people for using combinations of common word of the dictionary unless it is exactly the same expression. If somebody call his game "Gendalf" or "Lord of the rings", then yes you can sue the guy.

I would also add that there must be a competition area conflict. If I make a game called "dark dungeon" that only sell in canada, and another guy use the same name but sell it in australia, there should not be any law sue. While for lord of the rings, since it is know everywhere it should be protected everywhere.

Sometime the names conflict over different media. ( game, video game, music, book, etc ) If I see a board game called dark dungeon, and a music CD of the same name, well I know that it is not the sound track of the board game. There are other elements than the name to identify a propuct : The font, color, presentation, etc.

Oracle
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Is the name of my game legal?

Larienna wrote:
I have heard that "Legend of the 5 rings" was sue by the olympic comitee. So they had to change their name for "Legend of the Rings". Totally stupid on my point of view since the 5 ring philosophy was born before the modern olympics.
Quote:

This doesn't surprise me.

The capital of Washington state is Olympia. In the area there were a lot of businesses named "Olympia ____" or "Olympic ____". This was all named after the Olympic Mountains, a chain who's name predates the modern olympics.

This didn't stop the IOC from suing all these businesses and forcing them to change their names.

It's now illegal to use the word "game" in England.

Also, such words as London, 2012, Gold, Bronze, summer, etc are illegal to use in England.

This was covered by the BBC in July http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/olympics_2012/4744983.stm

Axe
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Is the name of my game legal?

Thanks for that link Oracal. So, what would be safe then? For example, if I wanted to create a board game called "The Risk of Falling in Love", could I be sued for using the word "Risk". If not, could I be sued for using "The Risk Of War". It seems like the arena of patents, copywrites, and trademarks is really screwed up. Its not a matter of following the law, its a matter of there is no law, nothing that says this is black and this is white. It makes it impossible to pick a name that would be recognizable to the general public, but still be unique.

Does anyone know if a name can be cleared by a government agency to prevent a law suite (would even getting a Trademark to protect you?) or is this just a deep pockets thing (so the small guy always looses)?

Thanks again.

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