Hi,

I first noticed trademark issues in games when playing Counter-Strike as a teenager. In one update all gun names changed into fake ones. I was quite frustrated.

On Sun, Jun 2, 2013 at 8:47 PM, Liviu Andronic <liv-public@myopera.com> wrote:
The textures look great, indeed. And we should definitely rid ourselves of the ads for proprietary products on the original textures. However I have some reservations about the car name changes.

I would like to point out that having real brands on TR cars is similar to advertising these brands.
 
First and foremost, I do not see a compelling reason to change the current names (Seat Cordoba; Ford Focus; Mitsubishi Evolution). Even if the car names are indeed trademarked (but having little legal training I'm still wondering if this is indeed the case, as in "how do you trademark Cordoba?"), they are also often used in many contexts without disclaimers, as if they were in the public domain. How many movies use actual cars (not just car names), most likely without the need to explicitly ask for the consent of each manufacturer?

There should be no doubt about that "Seat", "Cordoba", "Ford", "Focus", "Mitsubishi" and "Evolution" can be protected by trademark registration in most countries of the world (e.g. USA and all of EU) in the context of automobiles and that they are being protected.

I tried finding some of the names in the US trademark database, but didn't manage using the website, too many results.
http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/

I found an easier-to-find name: Lamborghini Gallardo.
Screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/9jfmkfE.png (the horrible US trademark website does not make direct links possible)

The car manufacturers of course claim that their brands are protected by trademark and require permission for use:
http://www.seat.co.uk/content/uk/brand/en/legal-note.html
http://www.mitsubishicars.com/MMNA/jsp/terms.do
http://www.ford.co.uk/Footer/TermsAndConditions

In a recent free software related talk on trademarks it is mentioned, in the context of software names, that there is a legal trend that permission is required.
http://faif.us/cast/2013/may/07/0x3C/ (34:15 - 35:15) - this is hardly related but there is nothing closer that I would know of out there.

But beyond that, the harsh truth is that our project is a hobby: we're neither a commercial product nor a manufacturer. We don't have any revenue stream to speak of, and in this sense we do not make money by piggybacking on trademarked material. At worst we're irrelevant as far as manufacturers are concerned; at best we improve the visibility of their products within the open-source community. So, with this in mind, I fail to see how "using non-free trademarks gives the brand owners power over Trigger". Was it ever the case until now? If a manufacturer complains (very unlikely), then we simply remove any reference to their car. Other than that, what litigation are we liable to? We don't damage manufacturers' brand image, and we don't make money out of their trademarks. What risks are there? Unless we hear the opinion of a legal expert in this field, once more I don't see a good reason to change the names.

We want Trigger Rally to be distributed by Debian. For that it needs to be free. Debian is not a hobby.

The trademark-defending party does not have to give warnings. There are patent, trademark and copyright trolls out there that sue without warning.

The party that might want to damage free games are proprietary games who payed as part of a license contract to car makers that they are allowed to use their car brands. They might demand from the maker that they prevent free projects from using the brands for free, which they had to pay for or else they stop paying.

Moreover, how do other open-source projects approach this issue? If I look at TORCS ( http://torcs.sourceforge.net/ ), a project plausibly more popular than Trigger, I see that they cheerfully use the Lotus Elise GT1, Peugeot 406 and Ford Focus WRC car names ( http://torcs.cvs.sourceforge.net/viewvc/torcs/torcs/torcs/data/cars/models/ ). Also see this list: http://www.berniw.org/trb/cars/carlist.php .
Did you try to contact them to see why they were doing it? Why would it be OK for them to use actual car names, but not for us?

I didn't contact them. I don't think it is okay to use trademarked product names without permission. I would suggest to any project not to use trademarked names.

Now please don't take me wrong. I'm not absolutely against changing our car names for fictional ones. But doing so takes all the fun out of Trigger Rally, so as far as I'm concerned there should a be a damn good reason for doing it. Although I'm an avid follower of things open-source, I'm also against a religious approach where we strive towards absolute purity ("don't be more catholic than the Pope"); we have enough of that in the real world.

To me, it takes out fun of a game by seeing ads and seeing car brands, which have been able to infect consumers' brains to a degree that consumers think that something is wrong, if the car brands are missing.
 
So we should carefully and pragmatically weigh the pros and cons, risks and benefits of each course of action. If we decide to go the way of a change in the status quo, I'd like that we reach some sort of consensus (even if grumbling) among the developers. I for one am still utterly unconvinced of the need or interest to switch to fictional car names in our rally game. If anything, I think this would be damaging as the invented car names would make the game feel more like a SuperTuxKart-type rather than a rally-type game, and I don't want that.

I was frustrated about Counter-Strike removing gun names but they did what they had to do legally. We should neither use marks without permission, nor promote non-free marks.

If anyone around here has a clear picture of all this legalese, please air your arguments.

Perhaps it would be better not to include a date on the car licence plates
though?

Indeed, I missed this detail. We don't want the plates to be outdated in 2014.. ;)

I got the inspiration for the new textures from the old ones. They contained a year (2004 on the evo). I'll be glad to remove it. :)

Cheers,
Iwan

Regards,
Liviu



- Jasmine



On Fri, May 31, 2013 at 1:06 AM, Iwan Gabovitch <qubodup@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi,

Note: Jasmine and Ishmael, your opinions regarding this topic are high in
demand. :)

let's discuss the car textures and the changes to car branding and
advertisements in svn.

I created replacements for the old car textures. They look like this:
http://i.imgur.com/PcefLys.jpg

There was some discussion in
https://sourceforge.net/p/trigger-rally/discussion/527953/thread/301aea42/?limit=25#8556already.

The (old) Evo, Seat and Focus textures are non-free: the images are from
unknown sources (copyright infringement) and they contain lots of
trademarks. I created replacements with fictional car brands/names (cordon,
eva, fox) and advertisements based on FOSS project names and FOSS command
line tools.

My position is that copyright and trademark law needs to be followed
without a company having to complain first. I also oppose giving
advertisement to non-free products/projects.

Using non-free trademarks gives the brand owners power over Trigger Rally
in being able to require it to change the use of the trademark. Not to
speak of the power of being advertised to Trigger Rally players. I do not
agree with a "let's deal with it if it comes to it" sentiment, I believe
the project should own what it consists of, which is part of why I'm
invested into replacing all copyright-questionable files (hopefully there
won't be any before the next release).

Fictional brands and ads are fine for me. I don't insist on the names,
logos and replacement-ads that I chose but would prefer to keep them.

Looking forward to hearing your position. :)

Cheers,
Iwan


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