I'm currently working on a game that will be released on PC with controller support, and I'm trying to find a way on how to best represent controller icons within the game.

enter image description here

I'm assuming I can't simply use Playstation or Xbox controller icons in my game without having some form of license first (right?).

So how would it be best to convey something like 'Press X to interact' in a PC game for controllers?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm really hoping that someone with legal knowledge or direct experience could provide a better answer; However, the best idea I can come up with is to show a diamond of four buttons(common to all current controllers), with no labelling, and highlight one of them. I think Microsoft may have some document approving the use of 360 buttons, so at least that side would be easier to handle. \$\endgroup\$
    – Katana314
    Aug 23 '13 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Considering motioninjoy driver is a hack (unlike the Microsoft-endorsed XBox 360 controller driver) and the ps3 controller is of course patented, I'd say steer clear of this, and use XBox 360 controller button labels instead. \$\endgroup\$
    – bobobobo
    Aug 23 '13 at 21:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yea, I decided I'm gonna go for the XBox controller ones instead of the PS3 ones. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 25 '13 at 10:15

While the letter X is not copy protected, the specific cross used on the controller, along with the other shapes: enter image description here, are trademarked. Using your own art to represent the buttons (as in your example image), should be OK under fair use, specifically nominative fair use. Where the qualifications for nominative fair use are one of the following situations:

  • The product or service cannot be readily identified without using the trademark (e.g. trademark is descriptive of a person, place, or product attribute).
  • The user only uses as much of the mark as is necessary for the identification (e.g. the words but not the font or symbol).
  • The user does nothing to suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder. This applies even if the nominative use is commercial, and the same test applies for metatags.

In this case, you're not trying to use the symbols as your own, but instead are directly referring to Sony's trademarked buttons, which likely falls under the first category.

If you're unsure, talk to a lawyer. If you're taking advice from someone on the internet, talk to a lawyer.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 Thanks for your answer @Byte56, it was exactly what I was looking for. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 25 '13 at 10:14

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