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I recently made a simulation game like Gamedev Tycoon where you are in charge of a game company and planning to release it on app stores soon.

I have few questions about trademark and copyright laws, as in game there are different companies (competitor) who release games, make sequels to previous games, release consoles etc. I know that under parody law I can change a company name from MICROSOFT to MICROCRAFT or MINORCRAFT etc. But what if I provide users an editor where they can change company names (if they want to) from MICROCRAFT to MICROSOFT?

Do changes made by players with my editor violate any copyright or trademark law? How can I handle that?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you have two different questions here: handling legal issues for user-generated content, and legal issues for content you generate (even if if is "random" generation). Since the fundamental generator of that content is different for both cases, I think you should ask them as different questions. I've edited out the random content portion as a result. \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Jul 15 '16 at 15:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fair use (your "parody law") is a defense, it doesn't grant you specific rights to specific content; that means it doesn't protect you from being sued, it just helps you win after legal action begins. Keep in mind that parody cases like you're talking about, where the "parody" was not really what the creation was about, have lost before. You are likely safer if you're only using names, however, which are not subject to copyright (only trademark). \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Jul 15 '16 at 15:42
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But what if I provide users an editor where they can change company names (if they want to) from MICROCRAFT to MICROSOFT?

Generally, when you provide tools that allow your users to produce content for your game, you'll want to include in your game's license agreement terms that dictate how and what may be produced. The single- or multi-player nature of the game isn't really an issue, the issue is if the content can be reasonably expected to be distributed by users. It almost certainly always can.

For example, Skyrim is a single-player game that includes official modding tools in the form of its Creation Kit. The EULA for the Creation Kit requires that:

You shall not create any New Materials that infringe upon the rights of others, or that are libelous, defamatory, harassing, or threatening, and You shall comply with all applicable laws in connection with the New Materials.

This kind of clause helps to indemnify you, the author of the software, against intellectual property violations perpetuated by (and appearing to be part of) your software.

Include such a clause in your EULA.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your reply , So I need to check on United States trademark office website to check whether certain name is register or not but what if certain name is register in different country not in us ,Is there is any universal website which has data of all register trademarks ?? \$\endgroup\$ – paul p Jul 15 '16 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunate there is not. That would be nice though. But laws differ slightly in different places. \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Jul 15 '16 at 16:18
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I'm not a lawyer, this is not a legal advice site. Opinions, here, are just that: opinions. To have a definitive answer, you should consult a lawyer.

I know that under parody law [...]

I would suggest to be cautious about it. To use that it's easier if you have an history of goofing around with various subjects. Microcraft could very well be interpreted as defamatory by Microsoft. Since they have more money than you do, they'll be able to make their case clear to a judge more easily than you will.

But what if I provide users an Editor where they can change company name [...]

It depends.

If your game is to be played in a single player fashion, and that this name will never be sent out in the public, nor shared, you won't have any issues.

However, if you're to publish content on the internet or to other users, this could become an issue. You will not have to enforce Copyright police until BigCompany thinks it's too much. You might want to consider putting a mechanism in your game to prevent the usage of certain names.

I'll say it again: you should consult a lawyer, before you release your game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ My Game is single player not multiplayer. In pro evolution soccer konami actually didn't have many leagues licenses so they release it with unique name and in game editor, Where player can change name of club or He can download mods or real name patch created by other players . Well I am aware of the fact that I dont have resources like konami .Thanks for the advice. \$\endgroup\$ – paul p Jul 15 '16 at 13:03

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