OK, so this is still about a game... only a web-based browser game, in this case NationStates, a political/social role-playing game that's text/image-based, interactive fiction.

It's a political/social satire, basically.

I'm creating fictional magazines for a fictional nation, and they're being hosted on a flipbook site. My question relates to titles and same names.

I obviously can't call my fictional newspaper relating to the nation The Times or my fictional car magazine Auto Trader, as they're trademarked - I checked on ipo.gov.uk, but if I was to call them The Anytown Express The Times or The Anytown Express Auto Trader (with different logos than the original to avoid copyright infringement, as well), would that fall under copyright infringement / trademark infringement, and is adding an affix sufficient enough to differentiate themselves?

I don't actually have anything yet on the site about my fictional nation's media... so am OK for now, but when I actually do, what's the right way to go about it?

Since this game is a parody/satire/social commentary, what's the right way to do a parody successfully?

All help is gratefully appreciated.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The issue of how closely you can make a name or other work resemble an existing work is largely a question for your lawyer, although the issue has been discussed before here in the linked duplicate. \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 May 15 '14 at 15:00

As with any legal questions, you really should speak to a lawyer who specializes in the specific branch of law you're concerned in, rather than asking the internet for legal advice, before making any decisions that could potentially risk getting you sued. That being said, trademarks are a bit more fickle than standard copyright law. They operate similarly in that they both take into account the similarity of the disputed "infringing" work to the original, protected work, but copyrights also take into consideration a few other aspects, and apply to situations a bit differently.

Trademark law, as I'm sure you've found, is more intended to protect an identifying symbol than it is about protecting an exact rendition of said symbol, which is what copyrights would do. That being said, I, personally, would not put trademarked materials intermixed so homogeneously with other words and hope that I wouldn't get sued.

Generally, from what I've seen, you can get away with paraphrasing the words, though. So, maybe instead of "Auto Trader" you could call it something like "Motor Car Merchant" or something along those lines. I'm not the most clever at naming things on the spot, but you get the idea.

If you're looking for some inspiration for renaming things such that they are recognizable enough by the fans, but clearly not representing the same product (from a legal stance), take a look at how the GTA series has done this. They've done a pretty fantastic job of making fun of big companies, in this way.

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