A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

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A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#1 Post by Aviala » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:44 am

I have a problem. When I named my project Skyfish, googled it quickly but didn't find anything related so I thought it was good to go. But when I googled it again recently, it turned out there's a Japanese VN company that has changed their name into Skyfish. A similar thing happened to me again today. I googled Lizard Hazard when I decided to name my group like that, but now that I googled lizard hazard games, the first result was a game called Lizard Hazard.

Do you guys think this is a problem? There's no existing company named lizard hazard games, but there is that game. And there is no game called Skyfish (at least I haven't found one) but there is that Japanese company. Can I even legally keep my game's and group's names as they are? Or if it's legal, is it bad taste? Opinions, please.

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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#2 Post by fleet » Wed Mar 11, 2015 4:52 pm

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. For legal advice your best solution is to consult an attorney that specializes in a field related to your question.

Now that that is out of the way, I hope the linked article is helpful.
http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/tradema ... r-business
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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#3 Post by Aviala » Wed Mar 11, 2015 5:37 pm

Thanks! I guess that link is somewhat helpful, though it doesn't really cover the my problem... I'm in a weird situation where there is no company with the same name as I chose for the group, but there is an indie game. It's like... me wanting to name a fastfood company Big Mac, but on a less dramatic scale :'') The game is a really short and simple browser game called THE lizard hazard fight, and nobody probably even knows about the game, so I guess it's not a huge problem that my group has a similar name (Lizard Hazard Games)..?

I'm more worried about the name of my game, Skyfish, since the Japanese Visual Novel studio called Skyfish is apparently somewhat well known. I don't feel like this is a huge problem, but maybe I should still add something to the name of my game, for example "Skyfish - The Great Adventure"? I don't really want to change the name of the project since I've already marketed it in various places... The reason why I didn't find out about the japanese company earlier was that Skyfish was supposed to be a webcomic project at first, so I checked that there were no webcomics with the same name, and when I decided to turn it into a VN I didn't realize to check if the name was taken because I had already decided on the name and released the first pages of the comic with that name... And now everything feels complicated. ; _ ;

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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#4 Post by Rossfellow » Wed Mar 11, 2015 6:06 pm

It's unfortunate, but the worst case scenario is that you'll have to change your title.

If you don't plan to publish for mainstream, though, this shouldnt be an issue. Avatar: The Last Airbender movie (lets not get into the quality, I just need an example) only needed to change its title when it commercialized the work, which would then share a name with James Cameron's Avatar. As an indie/fangame dev, you really ought to not worry about it too much.

Bad example: Hammerpoint's WarZ. That game sparked so much bad mojo and it got blamed on a completely unrelated group who developed DayZ. It's tragic, really, but they get to get away with it.
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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#5 Post by SundownKid » Wed Mar 11, 2015 6:15 pm

Legally? I'm pretty sure if you are allowed to file a trademark of that name, it should be legal to use. For games that are not trademark, I guess you have no choice but to take a chance and then change it if they ever threaten you with a cease and desist.

It may also depend on what it is. It's a studio, not a game, so it might not be construed as the same thing. I would say, just use it and if they ever contact you about it, then you can discuss changing the name.

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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#6 Post by Barzini » Thu Mar 12, 2015 3:01 am

Hi Aviala,

This is a common situation throughout the world.

Now let us take a look at your current standing:

There have been precedents of larger firms attempting to sue smaller firms into submission over the use of a name, however, these cases rarely go through unless the name or logo in question used was extremely obvious to be judged as a work of plagiarism.

e.g Using the name of Coco Colo as a soft drink name - You get the idea.

By right, any idea, be it name, lyric - ANYTHING, for it to be protected by copyright, has to be expressed in a solid form of work, basically - Put in writing.

The moment that is done so, countries that observe the Berne Convention will recognize this as a work of the owner of the copyright, basically, you.

However, right now, you have people from across the world coming up with similar things - Is this a form of trademark or copyright violation?

The answer is no.

The reason is this - Unless you are directly connected to the people who owns these copyright or have been shown to have done some investigation to the name before deciding, it will not be counted as a violation simply because in the brains of billions of people in the world, it is definitely possible for people to come up with the same name.

Not only that, according to you, you did, in good faith, check whether the name was in use at the point where you launched the search for the term, Skyfish - Which will only act as your defense as at that point, there was no such other name in use. If anything, you can be the one to sue them, but your case would still be thrown out for the same reason - The brains of some people in the world may be similar in some aspect.
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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#7 Post by Dylan_Bain » Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:14 am

Hey!

I am really interested in this game and hope it succeeds, so I am going to give my best advice. Keep in mind, though, this is just advice, and I am not actually familiar entirely with the legal aspects of gaming.


[1] Check if the VN company Skyfish have actually made any games called Skyfish. It would be a good idea to check so you don't get them complaining at you!

[2] Something as simple as turning the whole name to capslock (Skyfish to SKYFISH), has sometimes worked. Your logo is SKYFISH anyway, so I don't think it would cause fans to have trouble finding your game when it is finally released.

[3] The fact that this has happened could sadly mean someone is just making it harder for you. THIS IS NOT DEFINATE!! But the fact that you are making a VN called Skyfish and now this company changed their name (who also make visual novels), they might just be trying to make it harder for you in the business. Don't worry though, this is HIGHLY unlikely.


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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#8 Post by Aviala » Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:56 am

Thanks for the advice! I'm not sure if the company changed their name before or after I decided to call my project Skyfish. Maybe the company was already there and I just didn't happen to notice them. I don't think they know about my projects because it's a Japanese company and my project is pretty small and indie.

I guess I'll keep everything as it is and if I get in trouble, I'll change it.
Again, thanks for the feedback, everyone, I have a better understanding on the problem now!

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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#9 Post by Kia » Thu Mar 12, 2015 10:55 am

If this happens to me I'll change the names, not because I'm afraid of copyright or something. I just don't see the reason why I should make a name famous when somebody else going to take credits for free specially when I can easily come up with another name as good as the first one ^_^.

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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#10 Post by Rosstin2 » Sat Mar 14, 2015 10:16 am

It's all about your search engine optimization! I just triplecheck to make sure that the name of my game will always be the first result when people Google it, without any quotation marks or special effort.
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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#11 Post by Aviala » Sat Mar 14, 2015 11:56 am

Good tip! I actually did some more googling to see what pops up first when I google "skyfish game" and found out that there's a game called Sky Fish Phonics, and it seems like a pretty polished game made by an actual game company... I have no idea how I've managed to miss that one. I feel kinda stupid right now, I really should have put more effort into googling the names... Maybe I really should change the name of my game, or at least add something like "The story of Skyfish" but I just feel those kind of things sound a bit tacky... But I'm not sure if there's any other option if I want to avoid confusion (and unlikely but possible legal trouble). :I

Edit: I must have only made searches with "visual novel" and not "game", because I keep finding more and more games with "skyfish" in the title. I guess these things happen, but I think I should have realized to check everything better. I guess a change of name really is in order. Suggestions are welcome! :'')

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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#12 Post by trooper6 » Sat Mar 14, 2015 1:28 pm

Hm, this is a bit of a pickle! I'm Sorry you are in this situation!

I suppose adding some text (not tacky text) would probably be safest.
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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#13 Post by nyaatrap » Sat Mar 14, 2015 2:09 pm

It depends on a country but trademark is very limited to the same category of the same market field, rarely get law issue nor reputation damage (in Japan. Of cause, studio name and game title are completely different and never get law issue)
What you have to care the most is google search engine for your game - use names no one think, or advertise your names to be ranked on the top of google result. In the current situation, I think the better option is add the 2nd title like "Skyfish~something~" for google.

(btw, skyfish is a well known eroge company for us japanese - whatever)

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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#14 Post by trooper6 » Sat Mar 14, 2015 2:23 pm

Rosstin2 wrote:It's all about your search engine optimization! I just triplecheck to make sure that the name of my game will always be the first result when people Google it, without any quotation marks or special effort.
How do you make sure your game name would be the first search result when people Google it?
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Re: A VN studio has the same name as my VN - opinions?

#15 Post by Shaples » Sat Mar 14, 2015 2:23 pm

I'm not 100% about this from a legal standpoint, but I know there are plenty of books out there that share the same title, both with and without sub-headings/series designations/etc. Usually they're in different genres, or released years apart, but it's not actually all that uncommon. It might be worth doing a trademark search to see if anyone has the specific rights to the title, since it's more common to do that for games than it is for books, but trademark battles over game names usually only happen with really big companies.

Of course, you don't want to release a game with the same title in the same genre at the same time as another game, but I doubt there's a risk of your game being mistaken for a phonics game. The fact that you're finding a decent number of other games using the title out there is probably a sign that 1) you won't get in trouble for using it, but that 2) Your game might be harder to find/won't stand out from the crowd/could be mistaken for something else (edit: like a Japanese eroge company apparently lol). Ditto #2 for your production company.

I think the most sensitive gray area would be if your company shared a name with another company, because company names and logos are much more likely to be trademarked (and defended)

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