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Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 12:12 pm
by olddb
Recently a new Megadrive/Genesis game Tanglewood was released. Something that caught my attention of the campaign was how the author wanted to make the release as legal and as "official" as possible. To the point where he contacted Sega directly and filed for an official rating. :)

In the process, he was advised to avoid using the exact Sega logo / Megadrive logo on the box art and catridge label.

How come? Is this the same case for Nintendo?
In specific, I'm curious about the snes logo and font.

Sorry if this thread deviates from "snes dev".

Thank you.

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 12:26 pm
by lidnariq
Trademark law is different from copyright.

Trademark law requires active enforcement on the part of the trademark owner, and they are legally obliged to tell people to stop using it to prevent loss of the trademark. If they aren't willing to license the trademarks (and there's no obligation for them to do so, and there's valid reasons they may well be unwilling to license them for new retrodev), their only recourse it to tell/force other people to not use it.


This is different from actual typefaces used in print or games that are not part of a trademark: in the US, fonts have been deemed "too utilitarian" to be eligible for copyright, although modern vector fonts (e.g. TTF) have copyright on the embedded supplementary program inside them. In the EU, however, fonts are eligible for copyright.

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 12:37 pm
by tepples
As for trademarks: Nintendo still sells the Super NES Classic Edition, with trade dress closely resembling that of the Super NES during its commercial era.

Exclusive rights in the design of a typeface, as opposed to its embodiment in a scalable font file, most closely resemble design patents or registered designs. They last 15 years in the United States, or 25 years in Britain (source) and the European Union.

I'm more interested in exactly what typeface is used for each Nintendo platform's branding. I know "GAME BOY" is some weight of Gill Sans Italic.

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 1:05 am
by olddb
lidnariq wrote: This is different from actual typefaces used in print or games that are not part of a trademark: in the US, fonts have been deemed "too utilitarian" to be eligible for copyright, although modern vector fonts (e.g. TTF) have copyright on the embedded supplementary program inside them. In the EU, however, fonts are eligible for copyright.
@lidnariq
@tepples

Ok. So if I understood you correctly, the actual "supernintento" red logo is most likely still under trademark by nintendo, but the actual "red letter font" used is not in the USA?
So, someone could publish a label with that same font as long as the end product is distinct enough from the official trademarked red logo?

In the UK this is a grey area?

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 2:41 am
by creaothceann
You could ask neologix about it: https://board.byuu.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=921

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 5:27 am
by Oziphantom
The font is probably something off the shelf, if it was commissioned by Nintendo then it would be off limits. However writing Super Nintendo in said font is 100% going to get you take as you use Nintendo which they own. Writing Super Wonderthing in red, fine.
Super Wonderthing
Entertainment system <- in reverse
100% going to get taken.
Adding the colour buttons 100% going to get it ;)

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:05 am
by lidnariq
Independently, the full logo is assuredly covered by trademark.

Basically, if you use any portion of the logo (the Super Famicom circles, the SNES 'condensed text above reverse text') in a manner that is sufficiently similar to the original logo that a person will recognize it as a reference to the original logo, and it's being used in a context that could insinuate endorsement ... it's probably trademark infringement.

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 2:03 pm
by olddb
Image

Is something like this good?

How about this?

Image

Is Second Dimension playing with fire?

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 2:35 pm
by lidnariq
Both of them are. The "four ellipses" logo in the lower right corner is assuredly also covered.

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 2:45 pm
by rainwarrior
For a better idea of what you can probably get away with, maybe better to see what a slightly bigger fish like Hyperkin does.

e.g. their SNES Mouse imitates the colours and fonts but none of them is a direct copy. A lot of their products have similar imitations of style without really getting very close to a copy-paste.

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 3:33 pm
by olddb
rainwarrior wrote:For a better idea of what you can probably get away with, maybe better to see what a slightly bigger fish like Hyperkin does.

e.g. their SNES Mouse imitates the colours and fonts but none of them is a direct copy. A lot of their products have similar imitations of style without really getting very close to a copy-paste.
Thank you.

-------
On a side note, none of this should apply to the The Entertainment Software Rating Board labels, right?
Could I use something like this without problems?

Image

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 4:30 pm
by lidnariq
No, that's the same problem. If it's remotely conceivable that a person could mistake it for the real thing—and in this case that's kind of the point—and it's used on a thing where the real thing would make sense, then it's going to be problematic.

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:00 am
by Erockbrox
If it's remotely conceivable that a person could mistake it for the real thing
The problem with this idea is that people have different levels of threshold in the department of mistaking things.

For example if a kid wants some pokemon toy, a parent could mistakenly buy a digimon or yugioh toy by accident.

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:47 am
by lidnariq
Don't muddy the water. It's perfectly clear what's meant in this context. These things are unambiguously aping existing trademarks. Quoting only the first half of what I said omits an equally important part of the test.

Re: Legality of the snes font?

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:43 am
by olddb
Image

Now I see even Capcom with the re-print went super safe.