1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Copyright and Trademark Questions

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Steerpike, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. Paladin

    Paladin Dreamer

    14
    1
    3

    Thanks so much for the detailed answers Steerpike and Devor. I hope I didn't come off as sounding impatient or anything. If I did, I apologize for that. I appreciate the quick reply even though its a holiday weekend.

    I was expecting the answer you gave about copyright violations in other countries. I figured there probably wouldn't be much I could do about it realistically. I suppose I was hoping for some super secret UN copyright procedure or something lol... but I guess the world isn't that globalized yet.

    I suppose what concerns me the most is having the law turned against me by a larger company who decides my IP could be worth "acquiring". Being out-trademarked or out-copyrighted or missing some legal loophole that allows them to basically lock me out of my own IP I created. I've heard of this sort of thing happening before. I would never sell or sign over the rights to anyone and I always plan on self publishing everything, so having the IP taken from me forcibly would be the only way I'd ever lose it. I realize unless the IP where to become highly profitable though, this would probably never be an issue. Though, I've also noticed a trend that a lot of legal mistakes are made when an IP is first being created, when you don't have a lawyer to make sure you do everything by the book and if I'm not careful, this could come back to haunt me later.

    I've been doing some reading myself and I've seen your answer about not being able to copyright ideas, systems, methods etc. echoed in other articles and copyright explanations around the web. However, from what I've read, it would seem to say that I can copyright my personal creative expression of my ideas in a "fixed" form.

    An example of some of the articles I read: A citizen's legal guide to American copyright law | New Media Rights

    So... this brings me to a new question.

    1. I'll admit... I don't yet have any "finished" stories or video games that I can copyright. However, I do have a lot (miles) of notes, I tend to write everything down as it comes to me in as much detail as possible, about my fantasy world setting. So my question is... does this mean I can basically pull all my notes together in one huge file and send it/upload it to the copyright office for a copyright? I would argue that my notes are an original creative expression in a fixed form of my IP/stories/setting.

    2. Also, another question I have is... I've heard that starting a company would possibly allow me to better protect my IP. Is this true?


    Thanks again for all the help! I really do appreciate it! Hope all of you are having a great weekend!
     
  2. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

    904
    145
    43
    A question: I just received a, email from a person (a lawyer, according to internet) in Brazil. He requests me to remove the name of one of my characters in two books, because 'that name belongs to my intellectual heritage' because he used it for over four years as a World of Warcraft player, and he doesn't want his character to be commercially exploited. If I don't reply, he threatens legal action.
    First, re. my Dutch books, I contacted my publisher. He will think the matter over, but sees no legal grounds for such a claim, unless the person in question has trademarked his name.
    I think, as my selfpublishing business is Dutch as well, Dutch laws apply.

    Has anybody experienced a thing like this? An informed opinion?

    I'm not prepared to automatically give in, but as one WoW-player to another, I'm willing to adjust the name in the international edition when the second edition goes live, somewhere in 2015 (I'm rewriting anyhow, and it's easy to add an extra letter to the name while I'm at it.)
     
  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    5,294
    2,311
    313
    This sounds like a load of bullcrap.

    You'll find the European terms of use for World of Warcraft here:
    Blizzard Entertainment: World of Warcraft Terms of Use

    Specifically this part may be of interest:
    If I'm reading this right then the names of the characters (including player characters) are the intellectual property rights of Blizzard Entertainment.

    There's also a section in the naming policies that may help you argue that him using your character's name is in violation of the game's naming policies:

    To me, it sounds like this guy's just trying to be a dick or to rip you off.
     
  4. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

    904
    145
    43
    I think he's emotionally attached to his character, That in itself is something I can relate to. Especially because the one in my books is a very nasty fellow :)
    I talked it over with my Dutch publisher, because it concerns him, as well. He has a legal background, and that helps.
     
  5. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    5,294
    2,311
    313
    Indeed, I've played since the game was released, and the names of the characters do become a part of them. It still feels a bit over the top to demand that you change the name of the character in your book - but maybe that's a topic for another thread. ;)
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,073
    3,444
    413
    I'd tell the guy to go jump in a lake. The idea that anyone who makes an MMO character with a certain name has rights in that name is ridiculous on its face.

    As an aside, Blizzard's claim to own rights in the name you give your WoW character isn't much better, and I doubt they'd have any luck enforcing that particular provision.
     
    Ankari likes this.
  7. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

    904
    145
    43
    Yes. He expect us to suffer financial damages (It would mean my Dutch publisher destroying their stocks) because he doesn't want his WoW-character to be commercialized. This sort of thing sets me wondering what he is thinking and I don't fully get it.
     
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,073
    3,444
    413
    My guess is he simply doesn't understand intellectual property rights and doesn't understand that creating a WoW character gives him no rights in a name, and it is just an emotional reaction. It could be that he understands this and is just send out what he knows to be unenforceable claims, with the hopes that you'll either make the change or offer him some kind of payment to license the use of the name (which is, of course, a ludicrous idea). In any event, I think I'd simply send a short letter back pointing out that he has no rights in the name, you won't be making any changes, and you consider the matter closed.

    I don't think I'd change the name at all for two reasons 1) it sets a bad precedent; and 2) he might try to use the fact that you changed it as some kind of admission that you were infringing on his rights, which you weren't.
     
  9. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

    904
    145
    43
    That's literally what my Dutch editor said :)
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,073
    3,444
    413
    Sound like your editor knows what he/she is doing. People have to deal with spurious claims like this from time to time.
     
  11. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

    904
    145
    43
    That's why I'm not ashamed to let him handle the answer. And I'm glad to be able to post these things here and get professional answers, too.
     
  12. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

    1,740
    610
    113
    Hi,

    There seems to be a more basic question here being overlooked. Has he trademarked the name? What you've reported doesn't seem to suggest he has. If not then he doesn't really have a leg to stand on as far as I can see. And if he has then when you trademark something, you trademark it for certain uses.

    My thought would be to do a USPTO search, and if it's not there, send him a nice letter asking him specifically where his character name is trademarked, when it was trademarked, and for what uses. My guess is that you won't get a reply, because he has not done so. Now he may try to argue that the handle has been in use by him unofficially, but the legal weight of a trademark that has not been made official is I would guess, little.

    As for copyright it doesn't apply. You can't copyright a name, just as you can't copyright a title.

    But for clarification - I am not a lawyer.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,073
    3,444
    413
    When a trademark isn't registered, you can still accrue common-law rights, at least in the U.S., and those rights can be enforced, but only within the geographic area in which the mark has been used, and perhaps a reasonable zone of expansion. The internet clouds that a bit, but this guy is in Brazil and I doubt he has a U.S. registration or any U.S. common law rights.
     
  14. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

    904
    145
    43
    I sent him a reply, just now. Given the near impossibility to claim names, plus the fact that my use of the name predates his, we see no legal need to comply. Should he have the name registered, he is to let us know.
    Let's see if he has anything more to say.
     
  15. sankunai

    sankunai Scribe

    34
    7
    8
    Hi all. I am going to self publish my first novel in April (If everything works out right), but I'm wondering if I should copyright or trademark anything? Or is it automatically done once I upload it to amazon (or wherever I'll publish). There's a unique race of elves in my novel (Nothing new, but the name I think is new), and I don't know if I am supposed to copyright that or not.

    Thanks :).
     
  16. Swordfry

    Swordfry Troubadour

    113
    10
    18
    If I put a trademark or copyright of any kind on a story that I will eventually bring to publishers, will that at all affect the publication of the story? Or does the publisher do away with any of those trademarks or copyrights once you sign a contract with them for that story?

    This questions sounds a little odd. But I'm only asking it because from what I've read so far, it sounds like you really need to protect your stuff. So if you start a blog or anything like that self promoting your works in progress, having no protection can really leave everything up for grabs for thieves. And apparently self promotion is a very big must do thing for authors today so you can't really avoid this.
     
  17. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    5,294
    2,311
    313
    I'm making a book, and I want to publish it under a Creative Commons license. I'm a little concerned about how to actually write the notice though. I'd like it to be rather small. Would this be enough, or is it too much/too little/wrong?
    Should I go with the full thing?
    From what I understand a copyright notice isn't actually required at all, but it's supposedly helpful in that it alerts people there IS a copyright on it.

    Also, this isn't for a story, but rather a collection of quotes/proverbs I'm doing.

    Someone I talked to suggested:
    Is that acceptable?

    How important is it that it's written correctly? Does it have to be in a certain specific way, or is the main thing that there's some kind of notice present?
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,073
    3,444
    413
    SvrtnsseSvrtnsse

    From a legal standpoint, I'm not sure it makes much of a difference which options you choose. My preference would be to go with a bit of a longer description, though you might say "provided" under the Creative Commons license, not "licensed" under, since you, as the creator, are not licensing the content.

    If you're posting this online, I'd link to the applicable license agreement. If you're providing a hardcopy of the work, you can always have the URL of the license in the marking, though that can change over time. Alternatively, you could attached the license at the beginning or end of the work, again in the case of hard copies (if you wanted a person who acquires the work to have the full text of the license with it).
     
    Svrtnsse likes this.
  19. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    5,294
    2,311
    313
    Thanks for the update, even if it's a while since the post. :)

    What I ended up going with for the hardcopy was:
    For the website, CC provided a bit of code to add to the page so I used that and it's got a link and a little icon etc.
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  20. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,073
    3,444
    413
    Heh. I only saw it with the forum change! Looks good to me.
     
Loading...

Share This Page