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Destrolas posted a topic in General TalkRecently EA asked us to remove the BF logo and name from everything. I think this confused some of us, since we have a trailer with 42k views full of all their copyrighted assets, and we are clearly reverse engineering their whole game. Why would they focus on the name and logo? The problem is that we are looking at this from a gamer's perspective. We need to look at this from EA's perspective and a legal standpoint. I hope my explanation of IP protection law in the U.S. can clarify EA's position and hopefully help us avoid getting shot down in the future. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. However, I'm reasonably confident in my understanding of this. EA cares about the name "Battleforge" (BF) because of nuances in U.S. intellectual property (IP) law. There are three types of IP protected by law and by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). PATENTS Patents have to do with designs and novel processes (like inventions). This doesn't apply to us. COPYRIGHT This is the type of IP people are most familiar with. Copyright protects artistic works, such as books, songs, and movies. Copyright covers most of BF; it covers the visual assets, in-game music, the game engine, etc. One critical aspect of copyright law is that copyright is intrinsic; the instant an artistic work is created, it is copyrighted, and it remains so for the duration of the author's life + 70 years. You don't need to register with USPTO, you don't need to use the (c) icon, you don't have to tell anyone that you made something. Artistic IP is inherently copyrighted, and you can register it long after creating it, as long as you can still prove you created it. Registering copyright with USTPO gives you the right to sue for copyright infringement. This is the "biggey" that I think a lot of us worry about. Since all the content in BF is copyrighted and almost certainly registered with USTPO, EA can sue for copyright infringement (Note: criminal charges may be pressed for copyright infringement, but this is extremely rare. Copyright cases are generally civil). However, this unlikely for several reasons. First, EA can sue for 3 things: Damages: EA has to be able to prove that we have cost them money or hurt them in some way. Usually this is applied when we are competing with their original product. Since they shut down BF, that's unlikely. The only other damage would be to their reputation (we make a crap game and people think, huh, EA's games must be crap). That's one reason EA wants us to vigorously dissociate this project from them. Profits: Skylords Reborn is free, so there's not much profit there. I don't think they can take the donations, but I may be wrong. Even then, it's such a small amount of money to EA it's not worth suing. Statutory damages: If the plaintiff can prove willful infringement (pretty easy against us), they may pursue statutory damages instead of actual damages, between $750 and $150,000, as the court considers just. That last bit is very important. It's not up to the plaintiff how much is fined. Companies rarely pursue statutory damages in this situation since they may pay thousands in legal fees only for the court to say, "This isn't a big infringement, I'll give you $750." Thus there is not much of a reason for EA to sue for copyright infringement. In almost all cases, they pay more in legal fees than they get in return. The only real issue is if we damage their reputation by associating the project with them, or if they think we'll settle out of court. More likely, if they are displeased with us, they'd try to intimidate with things like cease and desist letters. Most importantly, they don't need to do anything to retain their copyright. Even if we re-released a full version of BF and called it that, they could do nothing, then in 20 years if they wanted to use their BF IP and start defending it using copyright law, they could. TRADEMARK Trademark law is murkier than copyright law since it has some common law (customary, unwritten historical laws grandfathered into our legal system in a sort of "that's just how we've always done it" fashion). There are some well-established parts, though. Trademarks are words, phrases, symbols, or designs that distinguish the source of the goods of one party from others. For example, the Kleenex trademark lets you know that this box of tissues comes from a certain company. Unlike copyright, trademarks aren't intrinsic. You must register trademarks, actively use and defend them (this is why companies use (r) and TM everywhere), and reregister them every 10 years. If done properly, they can be maintained indefinitely, such as Disney's use of Mickey Mouse as a trademark. The key thing here is trademarks can be lost if they are no longer strongly associated with you/the company. For example, if a trademarked name becomes too widely used (Kleenex is near this threshold) for products that are not made by the trademark-holding company, generics can seek the cancellation of the trademark. This happened to Aspirin, which used to be a proprietary trademark of Bayer but was lost through generic usage of the term. Thus companies are much more likely to engage in money-losing legal battles in order to actively defend their trademarks. Since EA is not using BF much, they are even more sensitive to defending it. You may wonder if we can actually "take" the trademark from EA if we are using it more than them. That's not possible because "Battleforge" is both copyrighted and trademarked, and the copyright is still in effect. Also, we aren't making a generic game similar to BF and using the trademark to market it. We are actually using their game. Finally, even if we could, legal battles can be long, costly, and unpredictable, and one (even one we can win) would probably kill this project. We want to avoid legal problems, not win them. COMPARISON - COTG Another dead freemium EA game (Lord of Ultima) was similarly revived into https://www.crownofthegods.com/. They have not gotten any notice from EA. Why did we? If you Google "Lord of Ultima," the revived version "Crown of the Gods" is nowhere to be seen. In contrast, when you Google BF, BFReborn is the only thing that shows up. That's a big problem since BF is an EA trademark, which EA is inclined to defend. Since trademarks differentiate between one company's products and another's, legally, our use of the name "BF" is the same as claiming we are EA. SUMMARY EA needs a reason in order to sue Skylords Reborn; companies don't do things randomly. The possible reasons are: Sue us at a loss to deter similar projects. This is very unlikely, as I doubt it would be an effective deterrent, but if EA wants to make an example out of us, there's little we can do about it. Protect their trademarks. Serious issue. Protect their reputation. Serious issue. Things that are only "copyrighted" (the actual game) are unlikely to get us sued. The issue is that we are marketing using an EA trademark. I know it seems as if by using BF we are paying homage to the original game and the people who made it, but legally we are pretending to be EA whenever we call this game BF. Our intent doesn't matter at all here--EA would win any court case. Our goal is to make sure they have no reason to sue. SOLUTION Zealously erase BF and BFReborn from everything. Google BF and delete everything that shows up. Ideally, when people Google BF, it will be mostly old EA BF links, reviews, info, etc. However, it's difficult to erase things from the internet. At least there should be no official Skylords Reborn links on the first page of Google. I think we should: Anywhere the name BF is visible, delete it. Descriptions, links, titles, headings, etc. Anything that may have high SEO needs to be wiped of the word BF. Take the trailer down until the logo is replaced. Also, remove BF from the description. I believe the devs are working on getting a new domain? Changing Twitch and FB was good. Rename/remove all thread titles with BF in them. Remove all social media posts with BF in them or in urls in the posts. Make our own wiki (we can copy all the stuff over). In less visible places, such as the body of forum posts, never spell out BF. Only use the abbreviation, as I have except for once at the beginning of the post. Make a rule that the spelled-out name BF must be avoided in anywhere official or with permanence. Ex: Don't post things like "Come play Skylords Reborn: The remake of BF" on your FB page. It will be a little more difficult to publicize the game, but there is no way around that. It is literally the point of trademarks. We need to build up our own brand, not piggy-back off of EA's, even though we are basically using their game. I think if we demonstrate that we are vigorously avoiding EA's trademarks and distancing ourselves from them, EA won't have any reason to bother us. I think even copy-pasting "We are not affiliated with EA (R)" everywhere could help. If it seems we are using their trademarks, or if it's possible people think we are in any way affiliated with EA, one day someone in EA marketing or legal could decide to take action. Note: I presume this only applies to the name BF, the logo, Phenomic's name, and EA's name, although since we seem to be on speaking terms with EA we may be able to ask if there is anything else we should avoid. TL;DR: Certain small things (to us) matter TONS legally. If we think legally, and do some nitpicky stuff, we should be able to avoid a cease-and-desist letter and subsequent lawsuit. FURTHER READING: USPTO: Trademark, Patent, or Copyright? https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-getting-started/trademark-basics/trademark-patent-or-copyright 17 U.S. Code § 504 - Remedies for infringement: Damages and profits: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/504 US Trademark Rules and Statues: https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/tmlaw.pdf
Tobbezeichnet posted a topic in MediaHey guys im actually pretty late...well u wont feel like this, but the guys which are involved will ... Anyways at first a bit about who I am. I am a Industrial Designer/Illustrator/Concept Artist from Germany...I'm in contact with the Devs nearly since the project started (lying...they were already working on it for a couple of months I believe) I made them the offer to draw for the project...for the moment I'm just doing some stuff completely free...the guys are so busy that the only "border" I had was the resolutions/dimensions. What I'm going to post here is first the progress of my work, inc the logo work of mine...second the finished piece of mine...and third the finished header inc the logo "Danfghj" did here: He was fine with me using his work ...Well I did some adjustments on his logo anyway...hopefully he is ok with that too Enough...my work below: