I gather from Is it legally possible to make a clone of the game? and How closely can a game legally resemble another? that I should not try to profit from a clone if it is using the same assets, and, I presume, the same name. My question is whether it's legal to make a game like "Set" or "Catch Phrase", using the same name, and release it for free. What would I be risking if I did so -- just a take down notice, or could there be financial risk too?

Edit: I guess my real question is whether the legal freedom is greater for a free game than one that is trying to make a profit. I just want a version of the game I can play remotely.

Edit 2: I don't understand why this is being considered off-topic. I read the FAQ and it says it'S OK to ask questions about project management, which includes Publishing. And naming a game is a key aspect to publishing. That's what my question is about - choosing a legal name for my game with the consideration that I might post/publish it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ gamedev.stackexchange is not for legal advice. What you're asking, however, is basically: if I go spreading rumours about the local bully, will he ignore me, or will I just get a small beating? What are you trying to gain? Make your own games! \$\endgroup\$ Dec 17 '12 at 11:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not for legal advice, and yet the first results Google found when I asked my question were here (quoted in the question). What I'm trying to gain is a version of the game that can be played remotely. So technically it's not just a clone, but an improved version that I could play when I'm not in the same room as friends. \$\endgroup\$
    – BlueMonkMN
    Dec 17 '12 at 11:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ We are a community of programmers, not a community of lawyers. That people ask these questions here and that Google links you here we can't control. However we do control the FAQ: gamedev.stackexchange.com/faq \$\endgroup\$
    – Roy T.
    Dec 17 '12 at 11:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's nothing in the FAQ about asking legal questions here, and the other legal questions that have been asked here are quite highly rated (and have not been closed), so despite the fact that part of this question is not strictly game related, I think it is appropriate to ask here given that it is half related to games. I am a game developer (programmer) asking a game related question related to a game I'm programming, as others have done in the same place. I think this is appropriate. \$\endgroup\$
    – BlueMonkMN
    Dec 17 '12 at 12:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ "is [...] the legal freedom is greater for a free game than one that is trying to make a profit." Usually, no. It just means they can't sue you for as much. Intellectual property does not exist to stop other people making money - it exists to stop the creators from losing potential money. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kylotan
    Dec 17 '12 at 12:34

There's basically three things you might be breaking:

  • Copyright
  • Trademarks
  • Patents

If you do a straight-on clone of a game, using the same name even, you're possibly breaking all of the above. This is not recommended.

If for some reason you feel you just have to do so, contact the rights owner and discuss terms of licensing. Depending on the case, you may even get the rights for free, but I wouldn't bet on it. (contact info for 'the set game').

Much better idea would be just to write your own game. Everybody has more game ideas than time to implement them, why bother rewriting other people's games?

As for the risk - as I said in the comments, this is basically just asking for trouble and pondering what the severity of the trouble will be. It's likely you'll just be ignored. Or on the other end it's possible this is the end of your life as you know it, but that's less likely.

If you want legal counsel, get a lawyer, don't ask on random web sites.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have written many original games, and am usually the one telling others to be original rather than copying existing games. But my family and I like to play Catch Phrase, and we can't do so when we're not in the same place, so I wanted to just make a quickie version of the game that we could play remotely. Just wondering if I could call it Catch Phrase if I planned to share it. I had the foresight to call it Fangsatz instead, but was wondering if I could change it to Catch Phrase if I didn't plan to market it or make any money from it (just post it on SourceForge). \$\endgroup\$
    – BlueMonkMN
    Dec 17 '12 at 12:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not asking on a random we site. I'm asking on a web site related to game development where other legal questions have been asked, and even been highly rated. Why do people have such a problem with this? Yes, it's not purely game development related, but it is related to the development of a computer game. \$\endgroup\$
    – BlueMonkMN
    Dec 17 '12 at 12:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Easy answer: contact the rights owner. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 17 '12 at 12:22

You can not use the same name, because it is copyrighted. The name of a company or a product is protected. The Set Game, for example, when searched on Google, it is presented with "®" (registered trademark), that means the name is a trademark, protected by the law. So the name can not be copied. However, this trademark has a duration and expires after many years and then, the product becomes a kind of "common use" (i don't know how it is called out of Brazil). These laws depends the country where you are.

Edit: Sorry, the symbol, is ®, not ™. Thanks, Sam Hocevar.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am downvoting this answer because it is really too vague; names cannot be copyrighted, they're trademarked. Also, even in Brazil, trademarks do not expire unless you stop paying; they can be renewed forever (contrary to copyright and patents). And ™ is for unregistered trade marks which aren't as protected by the law as ® (registered trade marks). \$\endgroup\$ Dec 17 '12 at 12:11

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