satchmoz @ : Is quendor free ?
How much of quendor is 'owned' ?
Or to put it another way. If one wanted to say, make a 'Zork' game or 'Zork' book, or 'Enchanter' game or book, then one would need Activision's blessing, as they own all of the rights to Infocom's productions.
However can one make a book or game of a generic name about a wizard battling a grue ? who uses spells such as rezrov, blorb & nitfol ? If it never mentions zork, enchanter & etc, or any events that take place in these games ?
And if some of it is trademarked/copyrighted. How much of quendor is owned ? The name 'quendor', some or all of the spells ? etc etc.
I know many fan works exist set in quendor, but fan works often occupy a blind spot in the law. As they are tollerated by the company that owns the intellectual property, or are unknown by the company on the whole.
You could contact Activision. They may not like it, but may actively ignore your derivitive works, as I believe they've looked the other way when certain Infocom games appeared for free online. In fact, all the Infocom booklets and feelies have been scanned and are available here: http://infocom.elsewhere.org/
You may want to see if that person has any legal status up there. (I seem to recall that Activision didn't care.)
Nelson's "Sherbet" used a very Zork-like world, so again, that may be worth looking at to see how to create a game in the vein of Quendor, but not explicitly in Quendor.
Finally, keep in mind that the various IF Comps frown greatly, or expressly prohibit, using copyrighted IP within an entry. If you're going to enter a Competition, use your best judgement.
|Date:||December 2nd, 2005 08:46 pm (UTC)|| |
I run infocom.elsewhere.org, and while Activision has looked the other way so far (and, in fact, their knowledge base points to various fan-run sites including mine for Infocom-related questions), I'm pretty sure they would be within their rights to ask me to shut down the site entirely. About a year ago they asked me to limit my scope, which is why you can no longer play any of the Infocom games via telnet to my site. So they haven't entirely abandoned the properties.
The question is muddied by the confusion between trademark and copyright. Activision probably doesn't hold trademarks on all elements of the Zork universe, they do (or did) hold trademarks on the names of all of the games, and hold copyright on the text of the games. I'm not a lawyer, but as a layman I think it would be pretty unlikely that you could create a work set in a universe created by someone else without having to worry about copyright issues.
Interestingly, it looks like the trademark on "Zork" itself is dead. The USPTO lists it as a dead mark as of November 22, 2003. "Zork Grand Inquisitor" is dead as of October 2, 2005. "Zork Nemesis" was abandoned as of December 3, 1997. "Return To Zork", on the other hand, is still live.
OK here is my muddled understanding of the way things are and I want someone to correct me if im wrong.
There are no trademarks on file, for any of the spells and other nouns that inhabited infocom's fictional universe. By infocom or activision.
Activision still has the copyrights to the games in and of themselves. But copyrights do not effect words or ideas. That is what trademarks are for. The game/code is what is copyrighted.
Therefore it should be possible to say, make a card game using the infocom spells & monsters, even commercially, and be in the legal right. Or am I missing something ?
|Date:||December 2nd, 2005 09:52 pm (UTC)|| |
The words may not be registered
trademarks, but I bet that if you actually did try to make a commercial card game in the Zork universe, you'd be taken to the cleaners by the IP lawyers nonetheless. Infocom (and hence Activision) acquired trademark protection in certain elements of their games (such as the Flathead line, the G.U.E., the word "Zork", etc) by first using them in commerce. Registration of the trademarks just confers some extra protections, or makes it easier for them to bring suit. If you were to use elements of their universe that people associate with them, I think they'd have a pretty strong case against you under the "likelihood of confusion" standard: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tm.htm#7
Of course, you could argue that they've established a pattern of abandonment in those elements by not using them and showing intent not to use them in the future: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tm.htm#7
But it would probably come down to having to make that argument in court, with lawyers. And Activision can probably afford more lawyers than you can.
(Reminder: I'm not a lawyer; I don't even play one on TV. I'm talking about things I don't understand myself. Your mileage may vary. Do not concentrate and inhale.)