How doI tell if a name is copyrighted?

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How doI tell if a name is copyrighted?

I am creating a videogame and want to make sure the name I want for it isn’t copyrighted.

Asked on March 9, 2012 under Business Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It's almost impossible to know for sure, since someone who has created an original work using that name can have copyright (or trademark) even if he/she has not registered the copyright (or trademark)--registration gives the rights holder some additional protections, but is not, strictly speaking required for copyright or trademark (though it is required for patents).

Still, you can form a good idea of whether anyone has rights to that name or not by:

1) Go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) website and search their databases.

2) Do several websearches, using more than one search engine, for the name; search not just for the name as you'd like to spell it, but for other possible variations. For example, say you want to name a game "Crazy" (to use an overly simple example)--search "crazy," "krazy," "krazee," "crazee," "cray-zee," etc.).


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