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I know you can't copyright gameplay, so I can clone a succesful game. I'm not completely sure if you can completely take over all the rules (when rephrasing them to go around copyrights on text).

But my biggest problem is, how do I make my game findable for users? Should I use a name that looks like the original trademarked game, like e.g. iRisk (for iOS), or R7sk (for WP7) ? Should I go for another game that grasps what it's about (e.g. Conquer the world) and add 'RISK' (or a similar reference) to the game description?

Edit on Tetrad's comment: People are free to propose an alternative solution to name the game as implied in my question. I'd even like to alternative solutions of close to the border trademark names, to prevent any problems on that part.

Cloning games and certainly puzzles (like sudoku) has been used a lot and sometimes it's even good to bring it to a new platform (mobile, ...). I'm mainly looking for a way to make the game findable for users, because as for now it's not available yet on the 2-3 platforms I'm looking to develop it for. I want users on these platforms to be able to play the game, without having problems with the trademarked name.

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Please comment how to improve the question when downvoting – anti-trademarks Jul 14 '11 at 20:09
I'm assuming that the downvotes are from people who take moral offense to the idea of trying to bank off some other games' success with your clone with names that are borderline trademark infringing. – Tetrad Jul 14 '11 at 20:30
Not being a lawyer, I down-voted this because with a minimum of effort research into trademark litigation shows that similar marks in directly competing markets are protected and you will get sued if you gain any market traction. Search on "Edge Trademark." The closest you can get is to name it something original and mention in marketing materials that it "plays like this other game named XYZ(tm)," and even then you might get a letter asking you to stop. – Patrick Hughes Jul 14 '11 at 21:04
Thanks for the info Patrick! Want to move it to a reply so I can accept (for your rep) ? Since this actually gives a good answer: don't use edge trademark + get some traction by "plays like" in marketing. I'll accept when I get back on then. – anti-trademarks Jul 14 '11 at 21:14
@anti-trademarks no worries about rep, IP is a minefield of lawyer bombs so be careful out there. – Patrick Hughes Jul 14 '11 at 22:18

As always, legal questions should be addressed to intellectual property attorneys in your local area, and not to random folks on the Internet.

This stuff is important. And it varies from state to state and country to country. Even if the people providing answers on the Internet are experts and are giving correct answers for their own location (which is unlikely), their answers do not necessarily apply to you in yours.

If you get this wrong, you face substantial fines and/or jail time. I strongly advise you to either ask a qualified attorney in your area, or else not to play the "how closely can I rip off someone else's works without stepping over the line" game.

It's simply too risky to even consider taking answers from random anonymous strangers on the Internet for this type of matter.

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I've heard that anonymous drunk people in dark pubs can sometimes provide more reliable answers. ;-P – Randolf Richardson Jul 15 '11 at 4:20
This is the only thing in computer related stuff, that i don't like to dig more then what I already know. This things can suck the life out of you. – iamcreasy Jul 15 '11 at 5:01
  • see this GamePlay Patent, for first question.

  • regarding your second question, Pro Evolution Soccer used this same approach that you mentioned. They didn't have the license to use real names of the Football players. So, they changed them slightly.

For example, Wim Suurbier is named Slowbear in the Classic Netherlands squad.

So, when a commercial title can do that, you wouldn't have any problem doing that either.

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I'm pretty sure the legal part is fine, I'm more looking on how to make it recognizable. – anti-trademarks Jul 14 '11 at 20:47
@anti-trademarks That completely depends on your product publicity! What else comes in your mind? – iamcreasy Jul 14 '11 at 20:51

If you are sure of your legal footing, and you want your game to be recognizable, then be blatant in your name. Be in your face about what you are doing.

"Counter Clone: If you like CS, you'll like my game better because it's cheaper and I added rocket launchers!"

"MineClone. Get it? Great. Then get it 'cause it's only $1!"

Not only is this "in your face" open and honest, it tells people exactly what they are going to get from your game. Additionally, you will get press just for being so brazenly obvious. That kind of press can be gold for you, as all it takes is one well placed mention in the NYT to get you a lot of eyeballs on your game.

This approach is like being the Duke Nukem Forever of clones. You're not apologizing for what you are. Hell no, you're proud of it, so say it!

Good luck.

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What if someone wants to clone his "MineClone" :P – iamcreasy Jul 15 '11 at 16:32
Mine2Clone perhaps? – Tim Holt Jul 15 '11 at 17:09
Thinking this over I've expanded on my original post a bit. Being in your face about cloning is a potential PR gold mine! – Tim Holt Jul 15 '11 at 20:44

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