爲你的電子遊戲名字註冊商標的5個原因

作者:Stephen McArthur

我經常看到的電子遊戲開發者所犯的一個大問題便是太遲爲自己的遊戲名字註冊商標,有時候甚至根本未註冊商標。像面向PC的Steam,面向iOS的App Store,以及面向Android的Google Play等平臺都讓一些小型公司和獨立開發者能夠更輕鬆地創造併發行自己的電子遊戲。多虧了這些平臺,如今的電子遊戲市場幾乎是面向所有擁有一臺計算機並想要創造併發行自己的軟件的人而開放。在2014年,每天有將近500款iOS遊戲以及250款Android遊戲會出現在市場上。

然而,隨着創造併發行自己的遊戲變得越來越簡單,別人去複製你的遊戲並從你的辛苦勞作中獲得收益也變得越來越簡單。就像現在我們可以在市場上看到許多《Flow Free》,《Threes》,《2048》以及《Flappy Bird》等遊戲的複製品。

app store(from gamasutra)

app store(from gamasutra)

本身就是《Threes》的複製品的《2048》便是通過爲名字註冊了商標而能夠避免其它複製品再複製它的名字。

創造了複製品的開發者並不能提升遊戲整體的用戶數量。事實上這些複製者將會侵佔你辛辛苦苦獲得的市場份額,並且掠奪原本屬於你的收益。所以對於現在的開發者來說,爲你的電子遊戲註冊商標並保護自己的品牌變得更加重要。

什麼是商標?

商標是指“一個單詞,一段話,一個logo或其它製造商或賣家用於區分自己的產品與別人的產品的圖像標示。”商標可以是像“任天堂”這樣的單詞也可以是索尼的“Greatness Awaits”這樣的標語。

商標並不侷限於像“Pokémon”或“Tetris”這樣的特殊詞語。任何英文單詞都可以註冊商標。例如“Apple”便註冊了商標並保護了其電腦和軟件的使用權。“Flow”也註冊了商標去保護《Flow Free》等手機遊戲。從根本上看來,商標的目的便是通過創造清楚的品牌識別去保護消費者,確保他們清楚自己購買的產品的來源。

我是否需要真正“註冊”一個商標?

從技術上來看,你可以在遊戲名字旁邊添加一個TM,而不需要進行商標註冊,但是這麼做的話你便不能獲得你們公司所需要的所有保護。你最好能夠向美國專利和商標局(USPTO)註冊屬於自己的商標。然後將TM升級爲?符號。只要擁有這一符號你便能夠避開所有複製者,並且在任何官司中也有理可依,即避免其他人想要使用自己的商標去擊倒你的遊戲。

我應該何時去註冊商標?

現在!最理想的情況是,你能在遊戲發行前便註冊號商標。如此你便能最大限度地保護遊戲免受別人的複製以及其它種種問題。實際上,你甚至可以在遊戲發行前3年便爲它註冊好商標。這意味着你能夠在開發過程中便保護好遊,。這能夠有效避免當你計劃使用一個遊戲名字好幾年,並圍繞着它創造遊戲,購買一個網站,投錢進行市場營銷並吸引用戶注意時,卻發現其他人也使用了同樣的名字去宣傳自己的遊戲。

如果你的遊戲已經準備好發行,但是你卻還未爲其註冊商標,那麼一切便會太晚了。如果能夠越快註冊商標就越好。

爲你的電子遊戲名字註冊商標的原因:

1.避免與其它遊戲具有相似名字而引起的種種問題

當你僱傭一位律師爲你的電子遊戲名字註冊商標時,該律師將調查你所使用的名字今後可能會遇到的各種問題。這種調查是非常必要的,原因有兩個。首先,它能夠避免你在遊戲發行後其它遊戲因爲你的遊戲名字而對你提起控訴。其次,這也能夠避免你在遊戲發行後遭遇需要改名的危險。註冊商標能夠讓你擁有遊戲名字的所有權,並避免其它公司強迫你去改變名字。發行後再改名有可能導致你失去大量用戶,並且也會引起搜索引擎優化,負面評論,市場營銷問題等等麻煩的出現。

2.遊戲名字的所有權

商標註冊能夠避免別人竊取你的遊戲名字並將其用於自己的電子遊戲中。就像我們無法想象另一款也叫《憤怒的小鳥》的遊戲吧?爲你的電子遊戲名字註冊商標能夠阻止別人去竊取它。除此之外,只有註冊了商標,USPTO才能夠阻止其他人再註冊你的遊戲名字作爲自己的商標。

遊戲名字的商標不僅能夠保護這個名字,同時它也能夠避免任何與之相近的名字。就像“Flappy Bird”的商標也會阻止那些想要使用“Floppy Bird”,“Flappu Birds”等相似的名字。然而《Flappy Bird》在發行時卻並未註冊商標。如果開發者能夠提前爲這款遊戲名字註冊商標,Google Play商店中便不會出現如下情況:

clones(from gamasutra)

clones(from gamasutra)

3.避免複製

儘管從法律意義上看,商標只能保護你的遊戲名字而非遊戲本身,但是如果你爲遊戲名字註冊了商標並使用?符號保護了遊戲,那麼複製者便不會再那麼猖獗。這是因爲註冊商標能夠清楚地告訴別人這並不是人人都可以使用的東西—-你已經僱傭了一位律師去保護遊戲的知識產權了。同時,一些較單純的人也不清楚商標只能保護到遊戲名字。在某些情況下這能夠幫你阻擋掉一些複製者。大多數遭受複製的遊戲都是那些創造者在一開始懶得爲遊戲註冊商標的內容。不想保護自己的知識產權其實就等於在遊戲的名字上添加一個“拿走吧!”的大紅色標示!

《Threes》和《2048》便都是因爲未註冊商標而導致無數複製品涌入Google Play和iOS商店中。

4.訴訟優勢

儘早註冊商標(遊戲邦注:最好是在遊戲發行前)能夠避免被牽扯進昂貴的訴訟案中。如果你因爲遊戲名字而被迫前往法院,那麼擁有一個註冊商標便會是你的一大優勢。如果你的遊戲名字因爲與別人相似而遭遇挑戰,你的註冊商標便能夠保證你的合法性以及你對於該標示的獨佔權。如果能夠呈現一個可靠的註冊商標,你便能夠在法律訴訟中要求獲得更多賠償。

5.投資者和風險投資家

風險投資家和較大的遊戲發行商都非常清楚知識產權的價值,而如果你已經經歷種種法律條框去保護自己的IP,他們便會更樂意投資你的公司。此外,如果你的遊戲已經註冊了商標,那麼其它公司便會爲了其它相關產品或將你的遊戲使用於其它媒體上而想要獲得你的遊戲授權。商標本身便是一種非常有價值的資產,它能夠提供給你具有競爭性的長期優勢。像《憤怒的小鳥》等遊戲便因爲註冊了商標與版權而能夠提供商品,桌面遊戲,電影等授權。

額外獎勵:世界範圍的保護

擁有美國的註冊商標讓你能夠獲得全球範圍的商標保護。像Steam,App Store和Google Play等平臺讓你能夠擁有來自世界各地的消費者並面對世界各地的競爭者,這點是不容小覷的。

註冊一個商標需要消費多少成本?

我會建議你只使用一位律師去研究商標法,並避免使用像LegalZoom等自助服務。就像你通常都不會聘請一位全科醫生或獨自進行自己的心臟直視手術,在知識產權法中也是如此。註冊商標通常需要花費你1千美元的成本。這既包括給政府的錢也包括聘請律師的費用。你可以爲自己的遊戲名字,logo,工作室的名字,以及你用於宣傳遊戲所使用的任何標語註冊商標。當考慮到一個註冊商標對於你的電子遊戲的保護範圍時,你便會覺得這是非常有價值的商業投資。就像如果《憤怒的小鳥》未能獲得品牌保護的話,它也就不會成爲現在擁有數十億美元的大品牌。

本文爲遊戲邦/gamerboom.com編譯,拒絕任何不保留版權的轉發,如需轉載請聯繫:遊戲邦

Five Reasons to Trademark Your Video Game Today

by Stephen McArthur

One of the biggest mistakes I commonly see video game developers make is waiting too long to trademark their game name or even not trademarking it at all. Platforms like Steam for PC, the App Store for iOS, and Google Play for Android have made it easier for small companies and independent developers to create and distribute video games. Thanks to these platforms, the video game market is open to virtually anyone with a computer to create and distribute their software. In 2014, close to 500 iOS and 250 Android games launched every day.[1]

However, as easy as it has become to create and distribute your own unique game, it is even easier for someone to copy your game and profit off of your hard work. This is evident from the numerous clones of popular video games like Flow Free, Threes, 2048, and Flappy Bird that crowd the market.

2048, itself a clone of Threes, could have at least prevented countless other clones from copying its name with a simple trademark registration.

Clone-creating developers do not increase the total user base of a game. Rather, these cloners cannibalize the market that you’ve worked so hard to build, diverting your revenue without adding anything new to the marketplace. It is more important now than ever to trademark your video game and protect your brand.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is “a word, phrase, logo, or other graphic symbol used by a manufacturer or seller to distinguish its product or products from those of others.”[2] Trademarks can be a word like “Nintendo” or a slogan such as Sony’s “Greatness Awaits.”

Trademarks are not limited to unique words like “Pokémon” or “Tetris.” Any English word can be trademarked. For instance, “Apple” is trademarked and protected for use on computers and software. “Flow” is trademarked for the “Flow Free” line of mobile games. Ultimately, the goal of trademarking is to protect the consumer by creating clear brand identification so they can easily identify the source of the products they are purchasing.

Do I Have to Actually “Register” a Trademark?

Technically, you can put a TM next to your game title without filing a trademark registration, but that will not give you anything close to all of the protection your company needs. You should always take the next step and register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Then you can level up the TM into an ?. Having the ? symbol wards off copiers and cloners, gives you extra teeth to enforce your trademark in court, and makes it less likely that someone else will be able to use their own trademark to shut down your game.

When Should I Register a Trademark?

Right now. Ideally, you should file your trademark registration before the game is released. That way, your game has maximum protection against clones and other issues that may arise. In fact, you can trademark your game title up to three years before your game is even released. That means you can secure a game name as early in the development process as you want, locking the name up for years until you finally release your game. This is incredibly useful for avoiding the situation where you plan to use a game name for over a year, build your game around it, buy a website, and pour money into marketing and consumer awareness, only to have someone else beat you to the market with a game of the same name. If you didn’t register your trademark well ahead of time, you would be out of luck.

If your game is already released for some time, yet you never bothered to register the trademark, it is not too late. However, the faster the trademark is registered, the better.

Reasons to Trademark Your Video Game Title:

1. Prevent Problems Arising from Choosing a Game Title too Similar to Other Titles

When you hire an attorney to register your video game title as a trademark, the attorney will do a comprehensive search for any future problems that the chosen name may encounter. This search is essential for two reasons. First, it can save you from an expensive lawsuit after the game’s release when another company has issues with your game title. Second, it will prevent you from having to change your game title after release. A registered trademark establishes your right to the game title and can prevent other companies from forcing you to change it. Changing your game title after release will result in loss of customers, complications with search engine optimization, negative reviews, marketing issues, etc.

2. Exclusive Use of Your Game Title

Trademark registration protects you against people who will steal your game title and use it for their own video game. We could not imagine another video game called Angry Birds, right? Having a federally registered trademark for your video game title will prevent others from stealing it. In addition, only if you register your trademark will the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reject other people from registering your game title as their own trademark.

The trademark of your game title not only protects the exact name, but it also protects anything that is “confusingly similar.” A trademark for “Flappy Bird” would stop copiers from using “Floppy Bird”, “Flappy B1rds”, and other similar titles. However, Flappy Bird was not trademarked on release. If its developer had registered a trademark of the game title, the Google Play store would not look like this:

3. Protection Against Clones

Even though trademarks technically only protect your game title and not the game itself, your video game is less likely to get cloned if you trademark the name and protect your game with the ? symbol. That’s because the registered trademark sends a strong signal that your game is not up for grabs—you have hired an attorney to protect your game’s intellectual property. Also, unsophisticated parties may not understand that the trademark only extends to the game’s title. In any case, it wards off some cloners. It’s not a coincidence that the most widely cloned games are those games where the original creator has been lazy about registering and enforcing their intellectual property. The unwillingness to protect your intellectual property essentially puts a flashing red “Take this!” sign on the title screen of your game.

“Threes” and “2048” were not registered trademarks which has helped result in thousands of clones throughout Google Play and the iOS Store.

4. Litigation Advantage

Registering your trademark early, ideally before release, can prevent others from dragging you into an expensive litigation. If, however, you are forced into court in a dispute over your video game title, having a registered trademark is a great advantage. If your game title is challenged as too similar to someone else’s, your registered trademark registration works in your favor by creating a presumption that your trademark is valid and that you have exclusive use to the mark. Your trademark also becomes incontestable after five years. And showing a valid registration increases the amount of damages you can request in an enforcement action.

5. Investors and Venture Capitalists

Venture capitalists and huge game publishers know the value of intellectual property and are far more likely to invest in your company if you have jumped through the legal hoops to protect all of your IP. Furthermore, only if your game is trademarked will other companies approach you to license your game for related merchandise or to use in other media. Trademarks alone are a valuable asset that provide a competitive long-term advantage. Games like “Angry Birds”, for example, are able to license merchandise, board games, movies, etc. because they have registered their trademarks and copyrights.

Bonus: Worldwide Protection

Having a United States trademark registration allows you to file for trademark protection worldwide. Considering platforms like Steam, the App Store, and Google Play are available to consumers and competitors across the globe, this should not be underestimated.

How Much Will it Cost to Register My Trademark?

I recommend only using an attorney who specializes in trademark law and avoiding do-it-yourself services like LegalZoom. You wouldn’t hire a general practitioner doctor to perform open-heart surgery, or ever consider doing it yourself, and the same consideration holds true for intellectual property law. Filing the registration for your trademark usually costs about $1,000. That includes both the government filing fees and attorneys’ fees. You can register a trademark for your game title, the logo, your studio’s name, and any slogans you use to market your game. Considering the amount of protection a registered trademarks grants your video game, it is a valuable business investment. Angry Birds wouldn’t be a billion dollar brand if it had simply gone the way of Flappy Bird with its brand protection.(source:Gamasutra