Jump to content


List of Taboo Trademarks

109 replies to this topic

#101 SoundGammon OFFLINE  



  • 652 posts

Posted Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:34 PM

I remember you could do a Space Invaders game for any system as long as you didn't use the name. Taito only copyrighted the name. A good case is Intellivision's "Space Armanda".

#102 homebrewreseller13 OFFLINE  


    Space Invader

  • 22 posts
  • Location:U.S.

Posted Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:42 AM

I was just reading the thread here and I know William at elektronite got permission from first star to make a Boulder Dash game for the Intellivision so I would not think they would turn AA down or maybe AA could talk to William and see if he could help with getting permission in making a B.D. Clone for the 2600 or 7800 from First Star. Just a thought

#103 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

Thomas Jentzsch

    Thrust, Jammed, SWOOPS!, Boulder Dash

  • 18,906 posts
  • Always left from right here!
  • Location:Düsseldorf, Germany

Posted Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:08 PM

making a B.D. Clone for the 2600 

I suppose you missed something... :)


Free demo here.

#104 homebrewreseller13 OFFLINE  


    Space Invader

  • 22 posts
  • Location:U.S.

Posted Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:14 PM

Yea looks like I did miss something. LOL

#105 stirring OFFLINE  


    Combat Commando

  • 2 posts

Posted Mon Oct 27, 2014 6:33 AM

This is pretty simple. Game ideas or concepts cannot be patented. However, like all creative works, they are copyrighted. Things like game names and/or characters names and images can be trademarked, which gives them even more protection. 


What this means is if you want to make a Pacman clone you can. You just can't call it Pacman because I'm sure that name is trademarked. You also can't copy the exact 'levels' of the game (create your own) because those would probably hold under copyright laws. And you can't copy the graphics or images of any trademarked characters. Making the walls or the dots look the same is not a problem, as long as you draw them yourself, but don't copy the same Pacman or ghosts basically.


If you want to make a Boulderdash clone go for it. Just don't use any of their level design, or copy their main character or use the name BoulderDash. Call it RockFall if you want, etc.. You can even have him collecting diamonds, although draw them yourself a bit differently.


The important thing is to draw all the art yourself and don't use any Trademarked characters or names.


In the early days of game IP, game company lawyers got away with way more then they should have. Things that would NEVER hold up in court today. This was because the industry was just getting started and there was a lot of frivolous patents and such getting granted. Nobody knew what to do with these things. But since then, thanks to the user interface wars, we know that computer interfaces cannot be patented. Games are basically user interfaces when you think about it.


As an example, I think one of the worse rulings granted in gaming history, was awarded to Richard Garriott's company Origin (of Ultima fame). He actually won a lawsuit against another RPG game, Questron, based on the fact that they also had a game using tile graphics! Garriott's lawyers somehow were able to convince the courts that this was a legit argument and awarded damages to them.


The makers of Questron had to pay licensing fees or fines to Origin. This was the equivalent of Garriott's lawyers convincing the courts that Origin was the first to use tile-based graphics and that no other games should be able to use them. Which I am sure they would have loved to patent. However, we now know this was total crap. Any decent programmer (not lawyer) could have argued that bit mapped tile-based graphics were essentially the same as bit-mapped character sets. So this would mean any previous game based on using bitmapped character sets, such as Rogue, could have sued Origin for copying them. The only legit argument would have been if Questron stole Origin’s source code and was using it in their game, which was not the case as far as I know.  If Questron came up with their own code and graphics themselves, then there should have been no case.  This was just some of the madness that game companies could get away with before the lawyers and courts started really understanding the field better.


Bottom line these days... you can make your game function just like any other of your favorite games. If you want to make a Donkey Kong style game go for it. Just don't call it the same, or copy the likeness of the characters or their names, or the games levels. Don’t use their source code or graphics, and create everything yourself from scratch and you should be golden.


Companies can not patent ideas like barrels rolling down platforms, or game characters eating dots or diamonds, etc...  Companies cannot put a monkey and a plumber in their game and claim that no other game can have a monkey or plumber in it. You just can't use THEIR monkey and plumber, since they are copyright, and most likely trademarked. Sure they may try to come after you with a nasty letter, but they won’t be able to sneak one by the courts like in the old days.


Heck Zynga’s entire business model is based off of copying other game mechanics and calling them their own. Is it legal? You bet. Is it shameful? I would hope any game designer with a hint of pride in their craft would think so.



Anyway I hope this helps! Now go forth and create your "clones" :)



(Disclaimer: IANAL)

#106 Waggie OFFLINE  



  • 421 posts
  • Location:Dayton, OH

Posted Mon Oct 27, 2014 9:32 AM

Isn't this Goodtimes Entertainment's entire business plan?  They're the ones that release cheap animated movies based on the same non-copyrighted stories that Disney uses.

#107 Cybearg OFFLINE  



  • 900 posts

Posted Mon Oct 27, 2014 4:43 PM

How strict is this stuff today? I saw a lot of recent encouragement to make tie-in games for horror/Halloween film properties like Halloween and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I'm getting some mixed signals, here.


And what if someone made a game based on stuff like the Rudolph or Dr. Seuss animated specials? Those things are old and, I would imagine, unlikely to rile up much trouble should one make a tie-in game on a long-outdated console, but where's the actual current state of this sort of thing?

#108 raindog OFFLINE  



  • 1,704 posts
  • Location:upstate NY, USA

Posted Tue Oct 28, 2014 10:22 AM

Here's the bottom line: regardless of what "would hold up in court" or whatever, you do what you can get away with without pissing off someone's legal department. Few of us can afford to defend a lawsuit even if our clones have different names, different level designs and entirely different graphics (see PR), and it's unlikely the EFF would choose one of us as a test case to establish precedent.

So, we have this thread to tell would-be retro game developers which properties are higher-risk than others. I would have guessed Namco's higher risk than most, but 15 years later, the only threat I received turned out to be a fake one from an opportunist. Nonetheless, I go to TESS before I look at threads like this. If the trademark is expired, I don't worry about it. If someone is keeping it alive, I try to find out why before I invest time into a project I might have to cancel.

Those who berate people for pulling projects because they don't think the threatening companies have a leg to stand on have largely never received a cease and desist letter and don't understand what it's like when tens of thousands of dollars of potential legal bills are staring you in the face and a low likelihood of getting them covered by the company suing you even if you win.

#109 Tempest ONLINE  


    Your Imperious Leader

  • 23,016 posts
  • Location:The Ethereal Plane of Atrii

Posted Tue Oct 28, 2014 11:10 AM

 I would have guessed Namco's higher risk than most, but 15 years later, the only threat I received turned out to be a fake one from an opportunist. 

Interesting.  I'm curious about the details on that if you're willing to share.

#110 stardust4ever OFFLINE  


    River Patroller

  • 3,665 posts
  • Location:Louisiana

Posted Tue Oct 28, 2014 2:49 PM

Someone should make a game about a homebrewer blasting down corporate lawyers. Kind of a SHMUP type deal.


Oh, wait. SHMUPs have already been done before. Damn.


Anyone remember KC Munchkin? :P

Edited by stardust4ever, Tue Oct 28, 2014 2:49 PM.

1 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users