dcsimg
A Flash Developer Resource Site

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 30

Thread: [disc] Cloned games and Trademark infringements

  1. #1
    Junior Senior
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    sydney
    Posts
    565

    [disc] Cloned games and Trademark infringements

    Did a couple of searches and didn't find anything relevant...

    I have a client who wants a Pac Man clone written, but they're worried about potential trademark infringement of Namco's IP. Up till now I've avoided games that come close to infringing anything, so I have no idea exactly what you can get away with when it comes to cloning old arcade games, or making games that are strongly derivative.

    I mean, there are thousands of breakout / arkanoid clones, and hundreds of pacman clones already, right? I can't imagine any of those got into trouble.

    But if someone were using pacman imagery in a TV campaign to sell an unrelated product that would be a different story, and this game *will* be used to market an unrelated product. Would we be likely to get sued for using, say, the same map layout as pacman, or audio that is modernized but strongly reminiscent of the original tune? I'm really not sure how close we could make it before it becomes a problem.

    On the one hand, in this case I think we will be able to change the game significantly enough to no longer be a concern, both in the artwork and gameplay. On the other hand, I don't have professional indemnity insurance or anything like that, so getting sued would be a nightmare.

    Anyway, hoping that maybe some of you guys have experience and can give me some pointers on walking the fine line between acceptably derivative games and outright trademark infringement.
    Signature

  2. #2
    Senior Member tonypa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Estonia
    Posts
    8,227
    Doubt you will find advice on such subject from the web. If you are really worried, consult lawyer who knows exact laws in your country. In general:

    * gameplay is not copyrighted
    * names, graphics, music etc usually is
    * richer you (or your client) are, more likely you get sued
    * the fact that there is hundreds of clones already does not mean anything

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ray Beez's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Posts
    2,796
    Whenever I see someone throw out the term "trademark" or "copyright" or even (but to lesser extent) "patent" my first thought is to wonder if they even understand those things. Usually people don't, so bear with me as I explain each thing:

    A trademark is a "mark" (name or image) used in commerce / trade. "Pac Man" the name would be a trademark. The Pac Man logo image would be a trademark. Namco has argued in the far past that the pac man "pie missing a wedge" shape is a trademark.

    Copyright applies to "works" that are written, performed or created (as in art). The artwork on the side of a Pac Man machine is copyrighted. The logo is also copyrighted (even though it's also a trademark). Any artwork used on the machine, or in the game would be copyrighted. The source code for the programming is copyrighted. The compiled program code is copyrighted. Programming your own unique code is not copyright infringing.

    Sound effects are grey area. A recording of a Pac Man sound effect would be copyrighted, but Pac Man's sounds are synthesized in real-time, so it's tough to claim copyright on anything but the set of instructions that make the chip do what it does. The musical notation of any tunes though are copyrighted.

    You cannot copyright ideas. Ideas can be patented (and must be proven to be implementable via the patent application). You cannot copyright gameplay.

    You could possibly patent certain software implementations, but software patents were not common back in 1980. Game manufacturers can't wait the almost 5 years for a patent to be granted. The game industry advances too quickly for that. But regardless, say Pac Man gameplay was patented in 1980, it would have expired in 2000, so it's still irrelevant.

    So if you want to be in the clear making a clone, follow these rules:
    - Don't copy any of the graphics. Make your own.
    - Don't copy the maze look and layout. Make your own.
    - Don't copy the characters. Invent your own.
    - Don't use sounds or music from the game. Make your own.
    - Don't use Pac Man programming. Script your own from scratch.
    - Don't use the name or any art from the machine. Make your own.

    What you'll end up with is a maze game, and Namco does not have any rights to such a generalized gameplay genre.

    Some useful reading: http://www.patentarcade.com/2005/05/...-lawsuits.html
    Last edited by Ray Beez; 10-16-2008 at 11:47 AM.

  4. #4
    Hype over content... Squize's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Lost forever in a happy crowd...
    Posts
    5,928
    Excellent post Mr. B, should be dropped into the knowledge base.

    Squize.

  5. #5
    When in doubt ask Eager Beaver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Planet Earth
    Posts
    911
    I found one link about Patents/copyrights pertaining to games. LINK
    <signature removed by admin>

  6. #6
    Yes we can tomsamson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Team Titan Secret Lair
    Posts
    4,666
    yup, nice post ray and and yup, will add it to the knowledge base

    just a few remarks and additions:
    "but software patents were not common back in 1980. Game manufacturers can't wait the almost 5 years for a patent to be granted."

    Meanwhile game and console manufacturers are very patent happy, lots of hardware and software specifics are patented.

    See SegaŽs patent covering concepts in crazy taxi (and other interesting things there) as example:

    http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20...nberg_04.shtml

    Yes, patents expire after a timespan as Ray said, so usually if its about mimicking an old classic game youŽd probably only get issues if you use art/sound assets mickicking the original too close, not when you recreate gameplay concepts.

  7. #7
    Junior Senior
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    sydney
    Posts
    565
    Thanks everyone for replying, especially thanks Ray. You're right of course that it would be best to err on the side of caution.

    5 years to grant a software patent is news to me. I guess that's why you see 'patent pending' so often. I worked for a software company that would regularly patent trivial little game ideas, simply to stop the competition using them. That was casino hardware/software though, which was a slower moving industry than arcade machines at the time.

    Really the two things I mentioned as examples are what I'd be most interested in keeping, as a homage if anything.

    Once the graphics are differently themed, the maze layout boils down to a 28x31 array, and my reverse engineered array would differ internally even though the output is essentially the same. Interestingly, on the wiki page for pacman clones, one clone "taxman" was hit with a lawsuit, then after being sued, the same company released "taxman 2" which was the same but with different maps. As Ray points out, the map layout would have been under patent and not trademark, and the lawsuit was in 1981 while it would have still been covered.

    As for the sound effects, what I was hoping to use was more or less a modernized cover version. To give you an idea here's the original 5 second intro theme from the 80's classic Time Pilot:
    http://www.evilbastard.org/slight/introtheme.mp3

    vs. a 'modernized' remake a friend made by ear from scratch:
    http://www.evilbastard.org/slight/introtheme-speedy.wav

    I think something like that would be fine if it were just some free to play thing on games portals, but it is probably way too close for something that will be part of a marketing campaign.
    Signature

  8. #8
    M.D. mr_malee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Shelter
    Posts
    4,140
    I wonder how easy it is to get permission to "clone" a game. Especially one from early 80's. If it were me, I'd love my game to get a refurbishment, given credit for the original of course

    Nice post by the way ray.
    lather yourself up with soap - soap arcade

  9. #9
    Junior Senior
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    sydney
    Posts
    565
    Regarding getting permission to remake classics, you'll probably find the original game designer does not have the rights to their own game, and the company who owns it will refuse unless there is a lot of money in it for them. :/
    Signature

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ray Beez's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Posts
    2,796
    Just do it for fun, not commercial exploitation.

    Here's an entire site dedicated to remakes of classic games: http://www.retroremakes.com/wordpress/

  11. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    55

    Are these games legal to develop?

    Hi,

    Just wondering

    Suppose I want to make multiplayer games like Chess, Backgammon, any solitar, pool. Classical games.

    Is it legal
    1 - To make these games and host on my website for players to play or generating revenue from banner where these games are hosted.

    2 - Let others to host on there websites for some payment?
    3 - Use these in social networks like facebook, myspace etc

    Anyone please, thanks

  12. #12
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    14
    It's perfectly legal to license games, host games with banners/ads, and put games on social networks. But I'm not sure if you would be infringing copyright laws for making flash versions of chess, backgammon, etc.

  13. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    55
    Quote Originally Posted by zomgguy
    It's perfectly legal to license games, host games with banners/ads, and put games on social networks. But I'm not sure if you would be infringing copyright laws for making flash versions of chess, backgammon, etc.
    I won't be changing the game rules or developing anyother games with different name like chess or anything else. All I want is to develop game in Flash keeping the game rules as have. I am not sure what copyright laws apply on this as I have seen flash games like I mentioned above and are running. Any ideas?

  14. #14
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    14
    If you have seen Flash games like those then it probably would be legally okay. I'm not even sure if game concepts like chess, backgammon etc have copyrights on them. However, your game wouldn't be so popular if there are already Flash games like the ones you mentioned.

  15. #15
    Senior Member hatu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    480
    Dude, most of those games are older than Jesus. Who would hold copyright on them?
    http://hatu.biz
    Portfolio & games

  16. #16
    ....he's amazing!!! lesli_felix's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    1,507
    Yeah, for sure.

    Backgammon is about 5000 years old, Go is about 4000, Chess about 2000, pool & billiards 700 years old. draughts/checkers about 400 & solitaire 300 years old. None of them have a known creator/inventor, although there are a few legends....

    Go to www.musopen.com and grab some public domain classical music to go with the game.

  17. #17
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    121
    Ahh, interesting thread.

    Is it illegal to make a flash game using ideas from another game?. For example; there is this game called Wings of Fury on Amiga http://hol.abime.net/1725, I want to make a remake of that game. What I would do would be making it identical, but completely new graphics, sound, music, levels and of course, another titel. But anyone who have played WoF would ofc know that this remake would be a clone.

    So, is it legal to copy a game's mechanics and ideas, but making everything, except the ideas, yourself?

  18. #18
    ....he's amazing!!! lesli_felix's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    1,507
    Depends on the game, the ideas and the mechanics.

    With many game ideas, you'll see those ideas repeated in earlier and later games, in which case, you'll probably be safe. I can't imagine how making a scrolling ww2 plane shooter could be a copyrighted idea, especially as there have been quite a few of them.

  19. #19
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    121
    Quote Originally Posted by lesli_felix
    Depends on the game, the ideas and the mechanics.

    With many game ideas, you'll see those ideas repeated in earlier and later games, in which case, you'll probably be safe. I can't imagine how making a scrolling ww2 plane shooter could be a copyrighted idea, especially as there have been quite a few of them.
    Well, I havn't played any game like this. Sure, there are many scrolling plane games, but in this one, you start on a ship, can turn in the air, cool turning animation, when going too far upwards, everything is zoomed out.... your goal is to bomb people on different islands, or sink ships with torpedoes.

    So, main thing in this game is, fly and drop bombs on stuff..... every other side scrolling flying game I've played is just shooting, not bombing, and no zoom when flying far up.......

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1ZS_xpVFZQ

    Can I have clearance from you guys that this could be safe to do?. I know you don't know 100% of course, it just makes me feel better if you guys at least "think" it's ok to clone .

    Thanks.

  20. #20
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    55
    Quote Originally Posted by lesli_felix
    Yeah, for sure.

    Backgammon is about 5000 years old, Go is about 4000, Chess about 2000, pool & billiards 700 years old. draughts/checkers about 400 & solitaire 300 years old.

    I get the whole point.

    Onething more which I want to confirm. You have seen and played board games like scrabble, monopoly etc. There are many board games. Is it ok to make flash games for that?. Keeping the logic and everything same, no changes. We know there inventors exist. So what you say on that?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  




Click Here to Expand Forum to Full Width

HTML5 Development Center