Recently, we received a “cease and desist” letter from a company that manages the trademark TAYLOR SWIFT. This was in regards to a game that was uploaded to flashgamedistribution.com. We actually do kick out games that we know are infringing copyrights or trademarks, but many times we are not aware of cases where this is happening. I felt this was a good opportunity to share this with you to show that as game developers we do need to be careful about copyrights and trademarks, and also to show why we at FGL kick some games out that we think could have issues. Below I’ve copied and pasted the company’s email to us and my response.
– The company’s letter (I have replaced their company name with <a certain company>) –
To whom it may concern,
<a certain company> is the exclusive licensee and administrator of the trademark, name and likeness rights of Ms. Taylor Swift, in the United States and throughout the world. As you are no doubt aware,TAYLOR SWIFT is a trademark used to identify products, services, activities and events related to Ms. Swift.
In connection to <a certain company>’s proprietary rights over its famous trademark we are notifying you of the following:
It has come to our attention that our trademark TAYLOR SWIFT appears as a metatag, keyword, visible or hidden text on the web site(s) located at:
<an FGD link that has been removed>
Also, by using such trademark, you have intentionally attempted to attract Internet users to your web site(s) or other online location(s), by creating a likelihood of confusion with the TAYLOR SWIFT trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site(s), online location(s), products or services.
The foregoing amounts to trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition and false advertising under the federal statutes, including The Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051 et seq., and to unfair or deceptive practices under the State statutory and case law. Furthermore, this use infringes on Ms. Swift’s personal rights, in violation of the applicable laws, including the Tennessee Personal Rights Protection Act of 1984, Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-25-1101 et seq. Therefore, <a certain company> is entitled to recover from you the damages that it has suffered as a result of your activities—and three times the amount of such damages, and the profits that you have gained as a result of your activities, in addition to its court costs and attorney fees.
In view of <a certain company>’s rights to the trademark TAYLOR SWIFT we demand that you immediately and no later than within three (3) days of your receipt of this letter, remove all metatags, keywords, visible or hidden texts including trademark presently appearing on the above-cited web site(s) and any other web site(s).
As part of our <a certain company> Trademark Enforcement Program, be assured that we will continue to monitor your web site(s) to verify your compliance with this letter. Failure to do so will force us to defer this issue to our Trademark Lawyer for further actions.
We hope that we can achieve a prompt resolution of this matter. However, this letter is not exhaustive of <a certain company>’s claims with regard to your conduct in this matter and is not intended to limit <a certain company>’s rights or remedies, all of which are expressly reserved.
<a certain company>
– My response –
The game has been removed, sorry about that! Tell Ms. Swift that we apologize. Users can upload content to our site and we do not monetize the content in any way (there are no ads on the site, etc…). However we still strive to make sure no copyrighted or trademarked content goes up without the permission of the owners of the IP.
If you could relay this message to Ms. Swift that would be greatly appreciated. We, in no way, are trying to be Mean. We always try to have our Eyes Open for illegal uses of trademarks. I even remember Back to December when we cleared a bunch of games out that violated trademarks and man did Sparks Fly then, but we did it nonetheless. Believe me, we know what is Mine and Ours, and we would never intentionally use another’s IP to enhance The Story of Us. We feel like our own story is strong enough without that assistance and just the thought brings Teardrops on My Guitar. And, not to beat a dead White Horse, but even though we would never upload such a game, it still means there was some person who has done this horrible thing and our relationship with that person is anything but a Love Story. Trust us, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together with them.
You Belong With Me,
– Their response back to my response –
Thank you for your quick response.