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I was wondering, if you want to make a NBA game on smartphones, without the license held by EA, the first solution seems to name your teams with a different name, such as "Chicragro Brulls" (this is just for the example), but would it be possible to just call your team with the name of the city, such as "Chicago vs. Dallas" ? I know the first solution was chosen by Pro Evolution Soccer, would you know any other game that don't use a license?

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I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. But if you need to ask if its legal then your probably straying a bit closer than you can afford to a trademark violation. Remember, trademarks has to be defended to be kept, if they think its a violation then they will be forced to send a cease and desist letter at minimum or they can lose their trademark. And even if your in the clear legally, you might need to defend this in a court of law. Use fictional team names and avoid trying to make a look-a-like and you should be fine however. Again though IANAL, not legal advice. blah blah.. – Daniel Carlsson Sep 22 '12 at 14:24
@Daniel Carlsson yep, thanks for the answer – Paul Sep 23 '12 at 2:23
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. Blah, blah blah...

Obviously this all depends on where you are doing business, but regardless, I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say that while city names are not protected trademarks, you can still be taken to court based on likeness of the name. Especially if you use the same team colors, and so on.

If you want to be on the safe side, just come up with a few dozen new team names and let players rename them. If the player wants to make the Chicago Bulls, then they can name the team that and setup the jersey colors to match.

Better yet, don't even try and compete with EA Sports (and the other AAA sports-realism game studios) and build a basketball game that is more unique: like a bunch of gangs playing street-ball where there are no real rules except put the ball in the hoop. That sounds like way more fun anyway. ;-)

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EA had their own line of "Street" type games released under their EA Sports BIG label: Some good inspiration! – Eric P. Sep 21 '12 at 18:30
@Cypher thanks yes i finally thought the same, better to be on the safe side!, or i'll maybe add something after the city name, just to be sure we know what it stands for. About the nature of the game, i'm not sure i've seen some about the "street soccer" or for the us football ("blitz" made by EA) that looked quite bad to me! But i'll see! Thanks for the answer! – Paul Sep 21 '12 at 18:41

I'm not a lawyer, so this is just my interpretation of the law. Before you release anything, talk to a lawyer. Your legal decisions are your own.

Names of cities are not protected trade marks (yet?), you can use them how you like. You may also look into giving the city name as the default and allowing the player to change the name of the team if they desire.

As far as other games that may employ similar methods, I don't know, and it's not really on topic for the site.

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thanks for the answer Byte56 – Paul Sep 21 '12 at 18:42

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