Can brand items appear in my game?

What if my character could visit a KFC and or buy Nike shoes? Would that present any legal problems?

It’s not my area of the law, so I can’t offer more than an uneducated guess, but as a practical matter even if you are technically violating somebody’s trademark rights, why would they object to what is, in effect, free advertising? On the other hand, if the chicken is poisoned or the shoes turn the wearer into a cripple, you might have a different situation.

In the game I’m curently working on, one of the objects is a glass of Coca-Cola. Technically, I probably should have included a “registered trademark” symbol, but I didn’t do so (just as I omitted it in the preceding sentence), mainly because I was too lazy to figure out how to get Inform 7 to print a non-keyboard symbol.

The usual caution: If you need an answer you can take to the bank, you have to ask a lawyer who knows about the area.

Robert Rothman

[Edit: In the unlikley event Coca-Cola were to sue me, I suppose my first response would be to apologize profusely and promise to change the beverage to Pepsi.]

I believe that is fair use in the US, and it can add some nice specificity to the play world. (But! Not a lawyer!)

ROFL :laughing:
Product Placement is pretty serious even if the brand name is in a relatively unknown text adventure (which would be more serious with pictures).

I’m not studying law either, but I remember there was a case in Second Life where a player made an avatar of a cartoon character with a personality that matched the show.

Because this isn’t a restricted environment, he could do anything with the character, until he was sued of course.

Just for the record, Coca~cola was sued once too when they started out, by using the image of Santa Clause (holding a bottle of soda) without permission.

There are a couple of lawyers on Youtube who could explain fair use better (they said not to act solely on the explanation and contact your own lawyer if you have any legal questions).

Trademarks can be used by anyone. You don’t even have to mention that they’re trademarks (the usual “Foo is a trademark of Bar” stuff some people write.)

What you can’t do, is name your game “Coca Cola”.

I assume the very existence of “Coke is it!” and the lack of lawsuits surrounding it means that, at the very least, you can get away with it.

I feel obligated to link to this:

POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

A few years back I’d read an article about an author who placed products in a novel he wrote. I think he published an amusing series of letters between himself and the companies he was “promoting” (without their consent, if I remember correctly). But while trying to find the article on Google, I discovered that product placement in novels is all over the place now!

I try to stay away from things like this and just present a blurry image that would not automatically give away the brand but something that resembles it. I am also no lawyer, but I think it would be fine if you use the brand as long as you do not benefit any from using their brand as it would just appear on your stories.

I don’t think authors who take mention of products in their novel would go out and ask for permission and leave things hanging.

I think it’s funnier when products are made up.

As for real products, I remember Kleenex went into a tizzy a few years ago because they were afraid their brand name was being diluted because people would refer to “kleenex” when they meant another brand (like their competitor, Puffs).

The same thing happened to Jacuzzi. Jacuzzi is actually a brand name of whirlpool spas, and they are very careful to point that out. If you say “Let’s go get in the jacuzzi” and you actually have another brand of hot tub, that’s incorrect. That’s the sort of confusion companies want to prevent with brand dilution.

So instead of having them buy Nike shoes, maybe they could buy Nikedas shoes, or instead of KFC it could be CFC (which could be infinitely funnier, considering what CFC really stands for). Or maybe they could be another badly named store, like Dehli Burgers (funny, of course, because the cow is sacred in India).

In my trade, CFC stands for “controlled foreign corporation,” but I assume you’re referring to some other use of the term.

Robert Rothman

chloroflourocarbon, a coolant and propellant used in air conditionrs and hair sprays, long blamed for ozone depletion.

I probably should have known that. I think my car has one of the last air-conditioning units made that uses that stuff as a refrigerant.

Robert Rothman

A story about the desperately optimistic exploits of a wannabe burger entrepreneur in India practically writes itself.


And then there’s…

usually a Cease & Desist occurs before a lawsuit. im not a lawyer, but i play one on tv.

Yes you can. I did it with Building (one of the calendars is a Despair, Inc. calendar). I included the usual legal caveats in the about section, just to be safe, though.