Los Angeles, CA asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for California

Q: If I create similar a looking characters from a known IP, could I create a private Patreon for example to get paid

For example, Lets say League of Legends has a character who has red hair and is dressed as a pirate. If I make a similar character and post graphic content around that (privately). Could they take legal action against me? What if I don't mention the characters name?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: This is a complex legal question that involves intellectual property (IP) law, specifically copyright and trademark issues. Let me break this down:

1. Copyright: Characters can be protected by copyright if they are sufficiently unique and well-developed. This means that creating a very similar character could potentially infringe on the copyright of the original character, even if you don't use the same name.

2. Trademark: If the character is strongly associated with a particular brand (like League of Legends), using a similar character could also potentially infringe on their trademark rights.

3. Fair Use: There are some situations where using a copyrighted character may be considered "fair use," such as parody or commentary. However, this is a complex legal doctrine and would depend on the specific details of your use.

4. Private vs. Public: In general, copyright and trademark law apply regardless of whether the infringing content is distributed publicly or privately. However, if the content is strictly private and not shared with anyone, it may be less likely to come to the attention of the IP owner or result in legal action.

5. Graphic Content: Creating graphic or adult-oriented content based on someone else's IP could potentially be seen as more damaging to their brand and more likely to result in legal action.

In summary, creating a very similar character to one from League of Legends and using it in graphic content that you monetize through Patreon could potentially expose you to legal risks, even if you don't use the character's name and even if the content is ostensibly private.

However, predicting the actual likelihood of legal action is difficult, as it would depend on factors like how similar the characters are, how aware the company becomes of your content, and how aggressively they choose to enforce their IP rights.

If you are seriously considering this kind of project, it would be wise to consult with an IP attorney to get a more detailed assessment of the risks involved. The safest approach from a legal perspective would be to create your own original characters that are clearly distinct from any existing IP.

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