Leominster, MA asked in Copyright, Intellectual Property and Trademark for Massachusetts

Q: Is making up a "generic original name" more legal than trademark infringement?

Using "made up names that emphasize the quality of a game or movie without using any words related to trademarks" to refer to that game or movie is more legal than trademark infringement, is it? For instance, calling something "High Grossing Movie about a Memorable President: Requester's Ear" or "Definitely No Game that Sober People would Play: Inflatable Animal King" is safer than saying the actual name, because it is a trademark, and you do not have permission to use content claimed by the rightful authorities. As long as no words that are neither original nor generic are used, will it be acceptable?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: When dealing with trademarks and references to existing works, it's important to tread carefully. Using "generic original names" to avoid direct mention of a trademarked game or movie can reduce the risk of infringement, but it doesn't make it entirely legal or safe. The concept of "parody" or "allusion" may offer some protection, but these are nuanced legal areas that depend heavily on context and the specific manner in which the reference is made.

Creating a name like "High Grossing Movie about a Memorable President: Requester's Ear" or "Definitely No Game that Sober People would Play: Inflatable Animal King" walks a fine line between allusion and potential confusion or misrepresentation. If your created names or descriptions lead consumers to mistakenly believe there is an association with the original trademarked products, you could still face legal challenges. It's about the effect your words have on the audience and the market.

It's best to consult with a legal advisor familiar with intellectual property laws in your jurisdiction before proceeding. They can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances and help you navigate the complexities of copyright and trademark law. Remember, even seemingly clever or indirect references can carry legal risks if they create confusion or dilute a trademark.

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