Infocom IP Ownership 2022

Just reading…

Anyone aware of any further updates? I guess the branding is separate from the games themselves.


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Nope, haven’t heard anything further.


The outfit in Colorado Springs behind the site, Infocom LLC, holds a current standard character mark on “Infocom” vis-a-vis “downloadable game software”. I doubt their use of Infocom’s exact logo would survive a challenge by Activision, but I’m not a lawyer and intellectual property law is weird.


It’s definitely interesting. More so now with Microsoft buying Activision. They may actually do something with the games library (perhaps like the Williams are doing with Colossal Cave using Unity) and if so they will certainly use the original branding including Infocom logo.


It’s odd that current-day “Infocom” publishes Lode Runner tributes (knockoffs?). Surprised they didn’t go after Broderbund instead.

I hate to be the no fun allowed guy, but I honestly hope MS leaves it alone. Well, unless they let somebody like Limited Run Games do physical rereleases. I’d buy some of that.


I will say that it’s fun to explore graphical 3d incarnations of text games, I’ve played a couple of Zork games that were created in Roblox. They only designed as far as the Troll Room but exploring the forest, river and house up to that point was really fun!

I suspect Microsoft won’t have graphical reimplementations on their radar.

What is it that worries you @kamineko?


I think we have a pretty good thing going with the availability of all of these Infocom materials: games, tools, documentation. I don’t think any of that would have been feasible if Activision had actually cared about Infocom. So it’s hard for me to get excited about Microsoft caring about it.

I wouldn’t mind if someone tried to do graphical stuff inspired by the games. I’m more concerned about, say, someone making Zork VII because I feel that, with the exception of Spellbreaker and Wishbringer, the Zork universe has gotten busier and less coherent with every game post-Enchanter. Even the grey box reissues of the trilogy (and Enchanter) contribute to the confusion with a swarm of dates and countless gags centering around nonsensical-sounding names.

I think: enough, already.

Now, if MS wanted to reboot the universe, that might interest me. But the current timeline is a mess. It was bad after Zork Zero and Activision took three more runs at it after that.

So I’m worried about community resources primarily, and I’m secondarily concerned about the integrity of the canon.


This isn’t the first time the Infocom trademark has been purchased. It means absolutely nothing.


don’t forget that at least two Infocom games aren’t owned by gaming companies, but by the estates of Adams (HHGG) and Clawell (Shogun), right being reverted to the authors of the original books.

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

All this copyright nonsense stems from the disney company’s greed, so I guess that the mess will restart again in late 20s (Steamboat Willie is of 1929 vintage, so currently that fucking mouse is copyrighted until 2028…)


Sure, in theory I agree. But to play devil’s advocate, let’s say I create Zork VII (or whatever we’re officially on) and make it look and feel Zork-ish and then sell it for $5 on Itch.

Who is coming after me? Activision? The people who own the Infocom name?

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Or so we think. I’ve never seen the contracts saying so.

The company only has the trademark on the word “Infocom”. They would have nothing to say about this.

Activision could send you a letter saying “quit doing that.” I have no idea if they would. Some companies care more than others. (Nintendo, for example, is famous for sending cease-and-desist letters for even free fan-games about Mario.)

Activision has a history of allowing free Zork-derived games but nobody has tested the waters of for-money games. The fact that they continue to sell Zork games on a commercial platform (GOG) is an indirect signal that they have an ongoing interest in the Zork setting.

Also, if you did this, I would post a note saying “That’s tacky, I don’t like it.”


The Zork trademark is still owned by Activision. The Infocom trademark is useless.


Did you look? Trademark site says Infocom’s “Zork” mark was cancelled in 2003.

There’s a live Activision trademark on “Return to Zork”, but the only active one on “Zork” is some kind of Australian bottlecap company. (I am not making this up.)


Brilliant! :smiley:

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Even better, we’re free to make Zork VII a thing! :grin::sweat_smile::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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To make things even more complicated, trademark is a separate concept from copyright which, in the case of Zork, hasn’t expired yet. So while you would be free to use the name Zork in unrelated context, they can (theoretically) still come after you if you make something that’s based on earlier Zork games.