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Is 'with Friends' term copyrighted?

11-03-2011, 01:30 PM
#1
Is 'with Friends' term copyrighted?

Does anybody know if it's ok to add the term 'with Friends' to the end of your game if you plan on releasing an online turn-based multiplayer game on the app store?

I can't see it trademarked anywhere or copyrighted anywhere.. but I may be overlooking something.
11-03-2011, 02:15 PM
#2
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Los Angeles, USA
Posts: 722
I don't know if it's copyrighted, but it's definitely a well known IP and you'd be (rightfully) seen as stealing it.

11-03-2011, 03:15 PM
#3
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Greenville, SC
Posts: 8,250
Yeah, I don't think I'd take a chance on that one. With all of the lawsuits/threats of lawsuits even over things as simple as the word "Doodle" (although I think Lima Sky dropped that one because not only were they not the first to use it, but they were way too late in the game to fight it), it's probably best to steer clear of really well-known titles.
11-03-2011, 03:58 PM
#4
Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 188
You can't copyright a title. Google "copyright title" to see.

What you want to search for is a trademark. Zynga does have a trademark for "With Friends" (search for that using quotes in the uspto.gov trademark area), but the description for it reads:

Description of Mark: Color is not claimed as a feature of the mark. The mark consists of the word "with" over the word "friends" in a thought bubble; the term "friends" has a shaded wave running through it.

My guess is they would have a hard time getting just a plain word mark of "with friends" due to it being so generic and descriptive of online gameplay. So they had to go with a logo that included those words. See a discussion here: http://www.linkedin.com/answers/law-...64407-16951434

The fact of the matter is, the USPTO has allowed other games that have the "with friends" wording, so according to the USPTO, Zynga does not have an exclusive right to that mark. You just better be careful not to copy their thought bubble design. And of course, Zynga could file suit and make life hard for you, so you might want to consider having deep pockets.

Personally, if I were to consider having an app named "{something} with friends", I'd be sure to secure a trademark on it like Brian Fargo did:

http://fusible.com/2011/08/brian-far...arks-secretly/

This way, if Zynga tries to have Apple remove it based on their weak "with friends" design trademark, you can show Apple the shiny plain word trademark registration that the USPTO gave you.

I'm no lawyer, so be sure to get competent legal advice, etc.

Helle - 3D fluid physics blocky puzzler - App Store - Google Play
Dangerous HD - Epic 3D space combat RPG - iTunes - Website - Trailer - Soundtrack
11-03-2011, 04:58 PM
#5
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1,674
Quote:
Originally Posted by binaryhelix View Post
You can't copyright a title. Google "copyright title" to see.

What you want to search for is a trademark. Zynga does have a trademark for "With Friends" (search for that using quotes in the uspto.gov trademark area), but the description for it reads:

Description of Mark: Color is not claimed as a feature of the mark. The mark consists of the word "with" over the word "friends" in a thought bubble; the term "friends" has a shaded wave running through it.

My guess is they would have a hard time getting just a plain word mark of "with friends" due to it being so generic and descriptive of online gameplay. So they had to go with a logo that included those words. See a discussion here: http://www.linkedin.com/answers/law-...64407-16951434

The fact of the matter is, the USPTO has allowed other games that have the "with friends" wording, so according to the USPTO, Zynga does not have an exclusive right to that mark. You just better be careful not to copy their thought bubble design. And of course, Zynga could file suit and make life hard for you, so you might want to consider having deep pockets.

Personally, if I were to consider having an app named "{something} with friends", I'd be sure to secure a trademark on it like Brian Fargo did:

http://fusible.com/2011/08/brian-far...arks-secretly/

This way, if Zynga tries to have Apple remove it based on their weak "with friends" design trademark, you can show Apple the shiny plain word trademark registration that the USPTO gave you.

I'm no lawyer, so be sure to get competent legal advice, etc.

maybe i need my glasses cleaned but

the UPSTO did NOT! granted a word trademark yet to either zynga or fargos

trademarks submissions... thats all there is to them at the moment.. just applications..

no one owns the trademarks to "with friends" yet..

Zyngas application is currently in limbo due to a previously applicated trademark (but also not yet approved) "war with friends" by Z2Live

..

so there are several parties who want to have a trademark surrounding "with friends" but no one got one yet.. contrary to binaryhelix writing..

--


@Bravado: Do you really need to ask? Be creative find another title thats not used prominently by a big company you never be able to fight and that still fits your game.


in the end law is not about being right but about getting rights.. and nowerday thats heavily based on the size of your bank account.
11-03-2011, 05:04 PM
#6
Too many developers are trying to leverage off the success of more successful titles. It's like opening a burger join and calling it: "McDonnys"

You should avoid any possible backlash from the gaming community and come up with someone new.

řƹȡ1
11-03-2011, 07:32 PM
#7
Thanks guys! Yes, I saw the trademark was submitted, however it seems to be hotly contested. In the end, you're right, it's probably not worth messing around with.

Pals, buddies, amigos, homies... so many other choices out there...
11-03-2011, 10:52 PM
#8
Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 188
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.Ugly View Post
maybe i need my glasses cleaned but

the UPSTO did NOT! granted a word trademark yet to either zynga or fargos

trademarks submissions... thats all there is to them at the moment.. just applications..

no one owns the trademarks to "with friends" yet..
You're right. I stand corrected. I assumed their "live" status meant it was granted, but you have to dig deeper. The latest status of their filing is:

2011-10-13 - Notification Of Letter Of Suspension E-Mailed

2011-10-13 - LETTER OF SUSPENSION E-MAILED

An excerpt from that letter of suspension:

"The web page specimen is not acceptable to show trademark use as a display associated with the goods because it fails to include the necessary ordering information or a weblink for ordering the goods and thus, appears to be mere advertising material."

Sounds like the USPTO wants an actual product called "With Friends" with a way to buy it at least. Since they don't make a game specifically called "with friends", it would appear that Zynga has a tough road ahead to get the trademark.

I think this opens the door for people to trademark a specific "{game} with friends" mark. We'll see if Brian Fargo's attempt to trademark some games this way succeeds.

Helle - 3D fluid physics blocky puzzler - App Store - Google Play
Dangerous HD - Epic 3D space combat RPG - iTunes - Website - Trailer - Soundtrack
11-04-2011, 12:20 AM
#9
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Los Angeles, USA
Posts: 722
Guys. It doesn't matter if you can legally get away with it or not. Using someone else's IP without permission is stealing, and you should be spending your time coming up with an original title instead of digging through copyright law.
11-04-2011, 02:58 PM
#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by spacecowgoesmoo View Post
Guys. It doesn't matter if you can legally get away with it or not. Using someone else's IP without permission is stealing, and you should be spending your time coming up with an original title instead of digging through copyright law.
Although I would hardly call putting 2 very common words side by side as intellectual property, I do agree that you should avoid the situation altogether. They've already put the wheels in motion to copyright it. It's not even that catchy, you can think of something at least as good.

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