Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

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Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by hyyou » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:00 pm

To my understand, using brands that is not owned by me
  • to enhance/improve my product including game is illegal ... fair enough
But I have seen many games on the edge of the violation.

1. Terraria has an item PhaseSaber obviously copied from light-saber of Starwars
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2. Broforce's hero has Brobocop as a playable character. Its appearance is the same as Robocop. Its skill is very similar too.
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3. 2D portal (flash game) copies a lot of gameplay and art style from the real Portal
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4. Cat Mario (Mario neko) copies most of gameplay & art from Mario NES (Famicom)
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They are all commercial games. (at least they add some advertisement)

To my prediction, they didn't ask the real copyright owner.

So, where is the threshold? Or just rename, and then everything will be called fair-use?

Please share your opinion.

Edit1:
This is neither asking for legal counsel or advice.
It is just a casual talk, and you don't have to take responsibility for any wrong guess (if any). :D
It is the reader's duty to read posts with discretion, and I don't plan to use other's brands anyway.
Last edited by hyyou on Wed Apr 13, 2016 4:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by insider » Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:12 am

You don't have to ask the copyright owner, the Chinese have a stealth jet with the design an exact replica of the Lockheed Martin F35, you don't see Lockheed Martin suing anyone for it do you, you are allowed to copy concepts, all the people you have mentioned above have copied concepts/ideas, you are "not allowed" to name your game after the Original, Example if you name your game as "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens" your in a ton of trouble. :D
Take you decision after you read every post in this thread please, I am not in a mood of getting sued for the inception of an idea :lol:
And of course it won't be very creative if you do so :)
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by hyyou » Wed Apr 13, 2016 4:22 am

insider wrote:the Chinese have a stealth jet with the design an exact replica of the Lockheed Martin F35
Chinese is a rare exception, it is on "the other world".
If the one who designed the stealth jet comes out of China, he would get caught by USA's policemen. :D
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by insider » Wed Apr 13, 2016 4:29 am

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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by mkultra333 » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:41 am

If your project doesn't get too popular and doesn't defame or confuse the market for the original, it's unlikely anyone will care.

If you get popular or make money, then depending on how close the similarity is, you'll get sued.
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by insider » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:58 am

mkultra333 wrote:If your project doesn't get too popular and doesn't defame or confuse the market for the original, it's unlikely anyone will care.
Hi mk I have few doubts of my own.

1. Will there be a problem if I name my game to Example : "Sukhoi" and also use a Sukhoi aircraft as the main character in a fighter jet game.
2. Do I have to Change the Game Name from Sukhoi to something else?
3. Do I have to change the Color scheme of the Sukhoi so that it doesn't conflict with a standard official military color scheme. (In short can I use a Sukhoi replica model as it is from turbosquid in a commercial game).
mkultra333 wrote: If you get popular or make money, then depending on how close the similarity is, you'll get sued.
4. I will be making money, popularity is unknown, that's not a parameter that is set, how similar is it to a real world Fighter jet situation, do real fighter jets get involved in an actual dog fights outside test case scenarios/flight simulators, none that I know of or have heard of, it's not 1940s anymore for two superpowers to go head to head, so how similar it is, is unknown, it is not based on any real world cases now that I can guarantee, the plot is too twisted for it to happen in real life.

If someone does get sued, what will be the course of action, I am not replicating a game, I am replicating a Russian Defence Aircraft, is there a sniper already behind my head :lol:
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by hyyou » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:14 am

Thank, insider, for a good link.
I will remember mkultra333's algorithm. : )
insider wrote:1. Will there be a problem if I name my game to Example : "Sukhoi" ...
It might comparable to a case where 7-11 appears in movie / animation.
The brand has to be replaced by a different name e.g. "8" but can use the original theme green-orange-red colors.
So I guess the answer is yes, yes and no.
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by EricB » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:51 pm

The question is of Intellectual Property rights. (That's the term you'd use to look this stuff up.)

In short, anyone who owns anything can sue you for any reason. It is up to a judge to decide if it is a valid lawsuit/claim/etc.

So technically if I write a short story about taking a poop, I can then sue Activision for stealing my poop plot (intellectual property) for their Call of Dooty. Would I win? No. But the point I'm trying to make is the barrier of entry for a lawsuit is paying a lawyer to file paperwork.

With that in mind, most people/companies will not file lawsuits unless there is a chance they can win, they must do it to preserve their intellectual property, or if they want to harass you (that one is pretty rare when it comes to large companies.)

So what kind of IP lawsuits you will lose?
-Directly copying names/titles.
-Directly copying characters.
-Directly copying stories.
-Directly copying artwork.

What kind of lawsuits you would win?
-Copying Gameplay (IE rules, but not verbatim)
-Copying Level layout
-Copying broad plot themes.
-Parody


So with your Robocop example. Do they call him Robocop? No. Does he look like 2d video game robocop? No. Is Broforce a comedy? Yes. If they were to be sued, they'd win the case. Brobocop is not named Robocop. He not 100% copy of any official 2d sprite Robocops, and Broforce can always claim parody.

Please note, that most people who get caught in hot water with IPs are remaking games, like Pokemon or Metal Gear Solid or Dragonball Z. In such cases IP holders must sue or they risk losing rights to these IPs if someone were to challenge them. My advice for anyone who wants to make a Pokemon clone... Show a little bit of originality and change the freaken character names, title, and don't copy the artwork. Then you won't get C&D letters! :o

A good case study with this stuff is the "Unseens" mechs in FASA Battletech.

So TLDR summation on IP laws:
1) Anyone can sue you for any reason.
2) Do not copy names/titles
3) Do not copy story lines, character stories, etc verbatim.
4) Do not exactly copy artwork.
5) If you are close to violating any of these rules be sure you are not close to violating any of the others. A fat Italian plumber, with a red shirt named Marco, who saves princes is more risky than a "fat Italian plumber" or a character named "Marco" who "saves princesses. "
6) Everything else is fair game. (Gameplay, level layout, etc.)
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by mkultra333 » Thu Apr 28, 2016 3:57 am

As far as copying gameplay, an interesting exception can be if they've patented elements of the gameplay. The most famous case of this is probably Crazy Taxi. IIRC, the Sega game had a patent on having an arrow in the sky that showed you where to go. Sega sued Fox over its game "The Simpsons Road Rage" for copying the idea, and it was settled out of court.

http://www.patentarcade.com/2010/07/cas ... v-fox.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crazy_Taxi
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by EricB » Thu Apr 28, 2016 5:04 am

mkultra333 wrote:As far as copying gameplay, an interesting exception can be if they've patented elements of the gameplay. The most famous case of this is probably Crazy Taxi. IIRC, the Sega game had a patent on having an arrow in the sky that showed you where to go. Sega sued Fox over its game "The Simpsons Road Rage" for copying the idea, and it was settled out of court.

http://www.patentarcade.com/2010/07/cas ... v-fox.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crazy_Taxi
That goes back to my point 1) Anyone can sue you for any reason.

Because it was settled out of court does not mean that Sega's patent is/was valid or violated. Settling out of court just that Fox didn't want to press their luck (and spend their money) in the court.

It would be up for a jury to decide if Fox was in violation. These sort of absurd patent lawsuits can go on forever. See Apple vs Samsung multi-billion dollar lawsuit over rounded corners on a cellphone... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Inc ... .S._courts So it makes sense for Fox to just pony up a few bucks to avoid the headaches. (Specially if Sega wasn't asking for much.)
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by c6burns » Thu Apr 28, 2016 8:46 am

Software patents are so brutal ... there's no point in even trying to figure out what elements of your software are patented in most cases. The harder you search to see what is patented the more you will find and have to tiptoe around. Literally the strategy is to just publish and wait to see what happens, then go from there. Worst case you become a victim of your own success and pay out under duress when lawyers hit you up. Especially in the game industry ... I don't know of any cases of a game studio handing out patent money except under duress (please correct me if wrong, there might be some examples out there). Not even kidding ... unless your project is of the size and scope that you are bringing in special counsel for patent/IP work, in which case you wouldn't be asking anyone legal advice here.

But using copyrighted materials is just asking for it. mkultra is right ... once your project reaches a certain popularity you WILL hear about it.
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by insider » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:20 am

Okay understood my doubt is slightly off course, can I get sued for using the name "Sukhoi", "Ferrari", "Dell", as a game name, these refer directly to a product or company and the "Sukhoi" usage that I am interested in has already been done before.
The full and exact name of the aircraft ->Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker
Game -> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Su-27_Fla ... ideo_game)
The Actual aircraft and very much in service-> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukhoi_Su-27

Any advise.
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by c6burns » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:47 am

This is why lawyers make bank ... trademark law is not always interesting or simple, though in the case of something like "Dell" you can bet your ass it is trademarked by Dell and they will defend that trademark. I never give out legal advice nor take it from anyone except a lawyer, so nothing I am saying here is legal advice. There are some cool legal sites where real lawyers answer the questions that get posted (of course, in an attempt to promote their services which is fine). That is where I would go with questions if I did not have ready access to counsel. I'd link one of these sites, but I've only seen them in passing, and haven't used them.

As said before, you can get sued for anything at any time ... so doing literally ANYTHING to add to the risk of being sued is poor strategy. Whether a jury of your peers will side with/against you should the suit go to trial, who knows. You obviously have a better chance of not getting sued (or winning the suit, or settling for a smaller amount) if you don't try to get cute by directly taking the name of an established brand or IP of any kind. You will notice almost no product you have ever known does that, unless they are covered by fair use (like a comedy show making fun of Dell, aka satire).

Basically, if you plan to make money, don't ever knowingly use anything from someone else's IP without express permission. It's a Bad Idea(tm)

*Bad Idea(tm) is a trademark of someone or something and all rights will be extracted from your mom if you do some other things or whatever
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by insider » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:57 am

So the simple version of the answer is NO. Accepted.
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by c6burns » Thu Apr 28, 2016 11:03 am

insider wrote:So the simple version of the answer is NO. Accepted.
I had to google what a Sukhoi Su-27 was ... cool!!! ... let's say you wanted to put those in your flight sim game. So you write to Sukhoi Aviation Corporation asking if you can obtain permission to use that jet's name and likeness in your game. If they say no, you put really similar jets in and call them something else. It's definitely worth a try. But yeah once they say no, that is that. But again, IANL and therefore this is not legal advice :D
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by EricB » Sat Apr 30, 2016 3:10 pm

insider wrote:Okay understood my doubt is slightly off course, can I get sued for using the name "Sukhoi", "Ferrari", "Dell", as a game name, these refer directly to a product or company and the "Sukhoi" usage that I am interested in has already been done before.
This actually depends on which country you live in. In most of the Western world, such as United States, UK, etc it would be illegal to use a trademark without approval from the company. However I believe in some countries, such as Finland, this is not the case. (I could be wrong, but I do know a couple of commercial games about commercial airliners that skirt around this somehow.)

My game is a great example of this. GearCity is an automobile manufacturing business simulator. As such I emulate 300 AI companies all based on real companies. With a little bit of parody you can get across which company it "could be". For instance is Furawree, with a black cat on two legs on top of a yellow shield as the logo. Just be sure to leave your files open and easily modable. :wink:

If you want a historical reference, Counter Strike was sued over the Colt brand name of guns way back when it was a HL1 mod.
c6burns wrote: let's say you wanted to put those in your flight sim game. So you write to Sukhoi Aviation Corporation asking if you can obtain permission to use that jet's name and likeness in your game. If they say no, you put really similar jets in and call them something else. It's definitely worth a try. But yeah once they say no, that is that. But again, IANL and therefore this is not legal advice :D
Actually most companies will allow you to use their trademark, but they will charge you a licensing fee and put limitations on your product (such as don't allow my airplanes to crash, don't make our cars slow.) It will probably be out of the price range of most people using Ogre. I personally would not approach SAC, as that admits that you are copying their design. Which if you did not pay the licensing fee for the trademark could open you up to lawsuits. What you would want to do is look up the public domain laws. In the US, F16, F18, F22, etc are not trademarked as they're government sign names for the aircraft. F-16 could be used as the aircraft name, where as General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon (Fighting Falcon being the trademark name) would probably get you in trouble. (Although don't call your game F-16, as that already exists and would violate IP.)

In anycase you could probably call your aircraft Su-27 without getting in any legal hot water. Or "Flanker" which is the NATO call sign. (Also as a side, anything made by USSR during the coldwar has no copyright... Tetris for example.)
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by insider » Sun May 15, 2016 4:44 am

Well they just made things a little more harder. Argh !!!!!

Turbosquid has added a new additional clause.
Editorial Uses Allowed
Extended Uses May Need Clearances
The brand 'raytheon' has been associated with this product. Editorial uses of this product are allowed, but other uses (such as within computer games) may require legal clearances from third party intellectual property owners. Learn more.

"Learn more" link above yields the image below
Image


So I am to contact say Raytheon and say "Hello Sir, I would like to use your missile to take down a Russian jet." I think the obviously answer would be NO or even worse they may not reply at all !
This additional clause added by Turbosquid is there now on almost all Defence related products, so now not only do I have to pay an insane amount of money to Turbosquid, I also have to run behind all the defence companies for clearance ?
This clause wasn't there when I purchased the models and I have models worth in excess of 800USD and even if one defence company says NO, I will have to rethink my gameplay which would actually stall the project itself.
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by mkultra333 » Tue May 17, 2016 1:03 pm

Man, that really sucks. You could try asking for you money back, but I'm betting that won't get you far. This kind of thing is why I never trust 3D model sites. You're never really sure of the legality of the models you buy.

If you can't get your money back, perhaps you can use the models as an "inspirational" starting point for new fictional models from fictional companies. Of course you can't use any of the original meshes, that could get you in trouble. Unless you re-worked them really well so it couldn't be proved... That still leaves the irritation of having to do some modelling, since it defeats the purpose of buying models in the first place.

On a side note, I've wondered about all the cars in GTA V. Do Rockstar pay the car companies to use those, or do companies pay Rockstar for the product-placement free advertising?
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by dark_sylinc » Tue May 17, 2016 7:07 pm

The original clauses that were in place when you purchased the product were the ones that are valid. However you better have proof of that (a copy of the previous terms would help try webarchive or google cache before it expires, plus invoice with date).

But beware if it's military designs it could be protected by other laws (i.e. the model should not have been ever been available for purchase in the first place; if that's the case there would be plenty lot of liability to share, but won't free you)
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by insider » Wed May 18, 2016 1:36 pm

dark_sylinc wrote:The original clauses that were in place when you purchased the product were the ones that are valid. However you better have proof of that (a copy of the previous terms would help try webarchive or google cache before it expires, plus invoice with date).
Thanks for reminding me that, there was just one snapshot from 2014 and luckily from around the timeline I bought the models it's like this, short and sweet.

Image

This is as of today for the same model, not so sweet.

Image
dark_sylinc wrote:But beware if it's military designs it could be protected by other laws (i.e. the model should not have been ever been available for purchase in the first place; if that's the case there would be plenty lot of liability to share, but won't free you)
Half the models on Turbosquid are defence centered so am I to understand they don't want us to make defence oriented Indie games ?
mkultra333 wrote: You could try asking for you money back, but I'm betting that won't get you far.
Getting a refund on Turbosquid is very easy and I have done that before and would even be very amusing if I told you what the reason was, so that's not an issue, the issue would be then I can never use that model again ever even assuming that Raytheon gave a heads up and given the fact that there is just one model of the equipment on the entire site I may have to tread very carefully.
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by Kojack » Wed May 18, 2016 5:49 pm

Lockheed went after a guy on Turbosquid because he was selling a model of a B-24.
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2008/04/l ... -liberator
Turns out Lockheed managed to get a trademark on the name "B-24", even though that's a descriptive term and generally shouldn't be granted. The guy had his models taken down, but I don't think any further legal action was taken.
(Lockheed incorrectly used the DMCA, which is copyright instead of trademark, to get the models taken down)

So, umm, yeah. Big military suppliers can go after small time artists using false methods, even though it's not likely to be a profitable use of their time.

Of course Lockheed is an interesting case because they also sell a PC flight simulator called Prepar3D, so unlike many military vehicle suppliers, they are also part of the games industry and may consider model use by others as competition. Maybe.

Edit: although Lockheed say explicitly that Prepar3d is NOT for entertainment use, so I guess they aren't really part of the "games industry".
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by EricB » Sat May 21, 2016 1:11 pm

insider wrote:Well they just made things a little more harder. Argh !!!!!

Turbosquid has added a new additional clause.
Editorial Uses Allowed
Extended Uses May Need Clearances
The brand 'raytheon' has been associated with this product. Editorial uses of this product are allowed, but other uses (such as within computer games) may require legal clearances from third party intellectual property owners. Learn more.
My advice is to never use TurboSquid. For $199 you can get you a good amount of custom work out of 2nd/3rd world artist. Many of whom advertise right here on the forums. To put it into prospective, for GC that's nearly 6 custom made cars with at least 30 morph animations. (In hindsight I should have spent a little more, I actually told them to make the models have less quality to keep the artwork the same... Anyhoo that gives a picture for how cheaply you can get labor.)

A missile for $200? You can get a high detailed model in any format you want and with 100% royalty free global rights to for well under half the costs. (And that money goes directly to the modeler instead of middle men like TurboSquid.) So personally I'd worry about over paying if you're on a tight indie budget.
So I am to contact say Raytheon and say "Hello Sir, I would like to use your missile to take down a Russian jet."
As previously mentioned, anyone can sue you for any reason. Make some little adjustments to the missile so it is not a 100% copy (but would be difficult to notice the changes unless you really studied the missile in detail.) Then simply not call it by any trademark name. Use the military designation for it.
mkultra333 wrote:Man, that really sucks. You could try asking for you money back, but I'm betting that won't get you far. This kind of thing is why I never trust 3D model sites. You're never really sure of the legality of the models you buy.
Ditto.
On a side note, I've wondered about all the cars in GTA V. Do Rockstar pay the car companies to use those, or do companies pay Rockstar for the product-placement free advertising?
They would only pay if they're using a trademark name. Actual physical form/design is generally very difficult to win a lawsuit over unless you have a patient for. In the case of GTA (I haven't played any since the first) I believe they use parody names. The vehicles might look like the real ones, but I'm sure there are minor details that prevent it from being 1:1 copies. This is how Chinese companies get away with stealing other companies car designs: http://jalopnik.com/5943850/the-ten-mos ... -knockoffs

dark_sylinc wrote:But beware if it's military designs it could be protected by other laws (i.e. the model should not have been ever been available for purchase in the first place; if that's the case there would be plenty lot of liability to share, but won't free you)
As mentioned previously in this thread, if it is an American military design the military designator (Name, F-16, F-15, whatever) is public domain. Likewise, any US/NATO military callsigns, like "Flanker" would be fair game. Any words or if it's not officially military, then it is trademarked (using the same examples, Fighting Falcon, Eagle.) The actual physical design of the model might get you into trouble if it's an exact copy. To prevent this, move a fin 5-degrees. Or add an extra fin. Change around the paneling on the texture. Make the nose cone a little more pointy...


Kojack wrote:Lockheed went after a guy on Turbosquid because he was selling a model of a B-24.
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2008/04/l ... -liberator
Turns out Lockheed managed to get a trademark on the name "B-24", even though that's a descriptive term and generally shouldn't be granted. The guy had his models taken down, but I don't think any further legal action was taken.
(Lockheed incorrectly used the DMCA, which is copyright instead of trademark, to get the models taken down)

So, umm, yeah. Big military suppliers can go after small time artists using false methods, even though it's not likely to be a profitable use of their time.

Of course Lockheed is an interesting case because they also sell a PC flight simulator called Prepar3D, so unlike many military vehicle suppliers, they are also part of the games industry and may consider model use by others as competition. Maybe.

Edit: although Lockheed say explicitly that Prepar3d is NOT for entertainment use, so I guess they aren't really part of the "games industry".
As mentioned previously, anyone can sue you for any reason. Case in point, Lockheed sued this guy because they had trademarked B-24 For Scale Model Airplanes.
They later withdrew this lawsuit after a letter submitted by the EFF. Lockheed had no merit to sue. A 3d model is not a "Scale Model" and B-24 can not be copyrighted when in reference to the United States Military aircraft. http://boingboing.net/2008/05/22/eff-fo ... kheed.html
Lockheed would have lost this lawsuit if they brought it to court. Of course the indie would have lost more because he'd have to hire a team of lawyers to win.

In short it goes back to what I said in my first reply on this topic. Anyone can sue you for any reasons. Your job in life is to mitigate those risks and make it impossible to lose.

To quote Art of War:
Sun Tzu said: The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.
To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.
Thus the good fighter is able to secure himself against defeat, but cannot make certain of defeating the enemy.
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Re: Use popular brand (Ex.Starwars) in our games, can we?

Post by c6burns » Tue May 24, 2016 4:28 am

bronzebeard wrote:Anyone can sue you for any reasons. Your job in life is to mitigate those risks and make it impossible to lose.
Truer words were ne'er spake
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