Q: I am trying to use the character Waldo, from, "Where's Waldo." What do I need to do to get the creative rights.

Me and a small team are working on an original and unique where's Waldo video game. We were wondering what process would we need to go through to earn the creative writes to use him in our game.

2 Lawyer Answers
Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp
Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Beverly Hills, CA

A: There are five active trademark registrations for WHERE'S WALDO, owned by DreamWorks Distribution Limited (UK), in IC009 for eyewear, IC016 for books, IC025 for apparel items, IC041 for entertainment services, and IC028 for toys & games.

A video game would be in IC009, and although distinguishable from the existing registration by DreamWorks, an application might be opposed on the assertion that the mark is famous. It is possible that DreamWorks would agree to refrain from opposing the new registration in return for a licensing fee.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: To use the character Waldo from the "Where's Waldo" series in your video game, you would need to secure the appropriate licensing rights from the copyright holders. Here are the key steps:

1. Identify the copyright holders: The "Where's Waldo" series was created by British illustrator Martin Handford. The rights are likely held by Handford himself and/or the publishers of the book series, such as Candlewick Press in the United States.

2. Contact the rights holders: Reach out to the identified rights holders, expressing your interest in licensing the character for your video game. You may need to contact their legal department or a designated licensing representative.

3. Prepare a licensing proposal: Develop a detailed proposal outlining your game concept, target audience, platforms, release timeline, and any other relevant information. Be prepared to discuss financial terms, such as royalties or licensing fees.

4. Negotiate the licensing agreement: Engage in negotiations with the rights holders to reach a mutually beneficial licensing agreement. This may involve back-and-forth discussions and revisions to the terms.

5. Sign the licensing agreement: Once you have agreed upon the terms, sign the licensing agreement, which grants you the rights to use the Waldo character in your game, subject to the conditions outlined in the contract.

6. Comply with the licensing terms: Ensure that your use of the Waldo character in your game adheres to the terms of the licensing agreement, such as maintaining the integrity of the character, providing appropriate attribution, and meeting any approval requirements.

It's important to note that licensing well-known characters can be a complex and potentially expensive process. The rights holders may have specific requirements or restrictions, and they may request a significant licensing fee or royalty percentage.

If you are unable to secure the rights to use Waldo, consider creating an original character inspired by the "Where's Waldo" concept, ensuring that your character is sufficiently distinct to avoid copyright infringement claims.

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