Homeworld Cataclysm Mod Legalities?

(A Future Pilot) #1

So, even though I would LOVE a Homeworld Cataclysm remaster, I totally understand if it’s not possible. I’m not a modder, but I’d like to ask on behalf of the modding community…how would Gearbox (who I’m assuming holds the IP to Cataclysm?) Look on a Cataclysm TC Mod? Would it not be able to use the name Cataclysm? Would ship designs have to be changed? Would grabbing assets straight from the original game be frowned on?


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(Alpha 1) #2

While it will be interesting to see the answer, there is already a mod in the workshop that puts in the somtaaw ships.

(Douglas William Bacon) #3

So far, the act of doing what you’ve said above is not illegal, as it falls in line with rules & guidelines already presented by Gearbox Software and they have not made a specific statement as of yet in regards to Cataclysm itself.

It’s fine.

(BitVenom) #4

My understanding (commenting on ZERO else) - is that Cataclysm, the name, in a gaming/entertainment context, is presently assigned to Blizzard. I don’t know the details of when or how - just that they’re currently in control of it.

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(Douglas William Bacon) #5

Say what, @BitVenom?
I absolutely want a more elaborate explanation on that!

(Alpha 1) #6

He is right, the trademark/copy right expired after Sierra went belly up and Blizzard took it for their WOW expansion.

(Siber) #7

It’s the kind of thing that companies tend to want employees to not talk about with lawyers involved so nobody accidentally tells the community they can do something that will get the company in trouble later. One of the World of Warcraft expansions is named Cataclysm. Bilzzard owns the trademark on the name for video games and related merchandise, books, and so forth. Seirra’s trademark on that lapsed, leaving it open for Blizzard to grab the name. The relevant US trademark database is publicly searchable.

That’s all to do with the name Cataclysm though, the content, story and otherwise, of the game is owned by Gearbox as far as I know. The old relic policy was that you could port things around homeworld games without any trouble, but of course Gearbox isn’t bound by any of that if they choose to handle things any differently.

(Douglas William Bacon) #8

That’s… Interesting.
So would a developer have to seek the permission of Blizzard to name their title Insert-here: Cataclysm? Or have Cataclysm in any major part of the name?

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(Siber) #9

You’d probably have to talk to a trademark lawyer to get a clear answer on that. I think the reasonable rule of thumb is if your cataclysm can be reasonably confused with their cataclysm it’s a no-no, but them having the trademark and a lot of money for lawyers gives them a big stick that makes taking it to a judge to decide if yours is a case of reasonable confusion or not rather risky. And my understanding is also that some aspects of trademark law make it in the interests of a trademark holder to ‘vigorously defend’ it else their claim will be weaker later on if they do want to defend it.

A fan mod for a game in another genre would probably slip under their radar I imagine, but if I were on such a mod team I’d at the least want to have a backup name ready. Gearbox doing any cataclysm themed DLC? I’d put money on it having a different name, assuming of course that it existed.

(Douglas William Bacon) #10

If I recall a previous and similar legal battle correctly, didn’t Mojang effectively lose the legal battle with Bethesda, which involved Mojang creating the game “Scrolls” with Bethesda being the owners of the Elder Scrolls franchise?

(Siber) #11

Well, sort of. They settled out of court, so it doesn’t really say anything definitive about the legality. On the other hand, http://www.ironcladgames.com/archives/1706 comes to mind.

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(Douglas William Bacon) #12

Ah! I’d forgotten about that one! And it’s more relevant! :smiley:

(Super Sajuuk) #13

I can’t really see Blizzard wanting to attack anyone for the use of the word “Cataclysm”. It’s just a word to mean “a hypothetical doomsday diaster or any kind of large scale disaster”: if one of those happened, are Blizzard really going to go and complain when someone uses the word? :smiley:

There’s also a Batman comic that uses the word which, to my knowledge, hasn’t been taken down or forced to change it’s name. Considering HW: Cataclysm and the Batman comic precede the Blizzard use, I very much doubt there wouldn’t be much use in using “Cataclysm” in any remaster or mod of HW: Cataclysm itself.

Of course, Gearbox would obviously want to get permission to use the word from Blizzard themselves before they develop any official DLC or game for HW: Cataclysm, but I doubt they’re going to say no, considering that the WOW expansion has no relation (or even relevance) to HW: Cataclysm.

I am not a lawyer, however. Just stating my opinion in this, as it’s interesting to me.

(Hero Crafter 1987 (Homeworld Universal Conquest Mod)) #14

There actually IS a cataclysm mod. I’m the only one working on the project right now (please help if you can). Feel free to ask questions.

(So long, and thanks for all the fish!) closed #15

Please check the date of the last post in a thread before resurrecting it. After 3 years, this one smells a little musty…