Flashgames and Trademark Rights – A Thin Line
When surfing through the internet, checking out various flash gaming sites and searching for games worth playing and publishing, you most likely will find some games showing famous brands. Two of the most famous kids brands used in several flash games are Nickelodeons SpongeBob SquarePants and Ben10, property of Cartoon Network. And you might wonder, how those often rather small sites can afford licensing a brand like this for publishment. Truth is: they can’t, in most cases at least. And they didn’t. They just took the game and uploaded it to their portals. They don’t care about any consequences, because huge companies like Time-Warner and the MTV-Network – the parent companies of Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon – won’t waste time looking for their games being used on small gaming portals.
In some cases, this might be reality. But to think, that those companies won’t check the internet for trademark infringements is a bit short-sighted. It just takes a little time spent on Google, a few clicks and you will find gaming portals having published these games, that under no circumstances have bought a license or made some other agreement with the rights owners.
And when it comes to violation of trademark rights, be sure you will receive a nice letter from the companies lawyer. If his day got off to a good start, the accused website or rather its owner might get away with a reprimand and a request to immediately remove said games from its portal.
But it could just as well end in paying a severe fine. So maybe it could be a good idea to just ask those companies, if they are willing to give you the rights to publish these games. Somehow they might as well have an interest in their games being spread around the world. And if not, better leave it that way.
It’s not worth risking a battle with giant companies just for a handful of well known branded games.