i know we have discussed about names, trademarks, etc. let's get into the specifics. here are some example scenarios:
1) IndieGamer Office 2005 (a competing product to Microsoft Office)
2) Web Nanny (a competing product to Net Nanny)
I'm sure these are legal, right?
Nope. You'd get smashed using either of those names. Trademarks don't just cover exact names, the company with the trademark just has to prove your name is close enough that it might cause customer confusion.
In either of the cases you mention, the existing trademark owner would have an open and shut case against you.
really? are you sure it is this definite? i understand that all the offensive would have to prove is that the there could be confusion between both products. But one is Microsoft Office, the other is IndieGamer Office. What about Open office, they have no problems... What is the difference between Open Office and IndieGamer Office?
Of course it is not smart to go against Microsoft anyway :-)
The people who make OpenOffice never call it OpenOffice, they call it OpenOffice.org, to avoid this problem.
Because of trademark issues, OpenOffice.org must insist that all public communications refer to the project and software as "OpenOffice.org" or "OpenOffice.org 1.x," and not "OpenOffice" or "Open Office."
Using similar tricks, you could mangle your name enough that it is obvious that it has nothing to do with Microsoft, but in most cases it really doesn't pay to do that anyway. It is better to build your own brand, and have a nice unique name that people can easily google for, etc.
thanks for the info! this makes it even harder to name your products :-) .
Well I don't think Microsoft has much leeway since their trademarks make use of common names. Microsoft Word, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office Suite, Microsoft Money, etc.
StarOffice hasn't had any problems. Corel had an office suite called WordPerfect Office.
And Windows is not only common but also hasn't been protected much. WinAmp, WinZip, Win[insert app name here] have been around. It is weird that the Lindows issues got as far as it did.
So IndieGamer Office shouldn't cause a problem. Web Nanny also makes use of common words, but I think in this case there might be cause for confusion on the part of the customer.
yea that is what i was thinking also. both of you make good points. we need some lawyers to clarify the issue :-)
A friend of mine would argue that the side that is correct is the side with the more expensive lawyers. I try to not let his cynical side get to me. B-)
I have a friend who works as a trademark lawyer. She's told me some funny stories about the journeys they go on to check out whether or not a prospective trademark is infringing on another one.
I'm pretty sure what's already been said would be corerct in this case; that is, "Web Nanny" would be illegal and "IndeiGamer Office" would probably get through OK because of other competing products and the ambiguity of the word "office".
i.e. you can't really trademark "vacuum cleaner" for your vacuum cleaner product. Office software is... just that, office software. If you made a game about a builder called "Gario" you'd be in trouble Basically you know in your heart when you're infringing on a trademark, because that's where you got the name in the first place. Unless the infringed trademarked product is something completely different from yours like a sex aid or a brand of soft drink of course. Even then you'll probably have trouble if it's a big mark.
Off topic, I'm fairly sure there have been cases where trademark holders have lost their trademark because the word has entered the language to represent the object and not the trademark any more. I think "Hoover" might be an example of this. I know loads of people who refer to their hoover. I'm gonna hoover that up.
Aspirin is a good example of a trademark that wasn't sufficiently protected by the trademark owner.
I know lots of people who refer to tissue as Kleenax even if it isn't that brand. "Xerox me a few copies of that document." Those are a few major ones.
Funny story: I knew someone who would come up with the most obscure trademarks to use casually. I know lots of people who say Kleenax or Xerox, but she was the first person I knew who would use Cotex to refer to any type of feminine hygeine product.
Cotex me over one of those Kleenexes, would you? Hoover you very Xerox.
... or using "Q-Tip" instead of cotton swab, or "Vaseline" instead of petrolium jelly. I think I was 14 or 15 before I realized those were actually trademarked names.