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Thread: Railroad Trademarks

  1. #1
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    Question Railroad Trademarks

    Hello all,


    I'm in the process of making GE Evolution Series locomotives for Trainz.

    But this got me thinking about something. Do I have to worry about railroads coming after me for using their logos?

    Large content creation sites such as Jointed Rail and RRmods have licenses for using such trademarks, but what about other creators who are not making profit off content, would you still need licenses?

    We don't want another Control Point Simulations situation.


    Christian

  2. #2

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    Usually with freeware it is seen as not a problem. Its usually the payware in which the RRs will chase after people for. If you are worried you could release the liveries as unbranded with no logos and then somewhere else provide a "branding patch" which is basically a set of decal assets that contain the logos which could be stuck onto the loco via attachment points and config tags.

  3. #3

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    If I remember correctly.......

    The hobby industry settled with the railroads that freeware items were alright. They agreed to only ask for licensing fees for something being sold for a profit. I think the railroads realized they stepped in it a bit and didn't realize how large the hobby industry was and backed off.

  4. #4
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    I don't know what the law is in the UK but here in the United States the answer is a resounding no. The Trademark law here offers only four situations where you might be able to defend yourself from being sued for trademark dilution. This articles covers them in detail.

    https://www.romanolaw.com/2021/06/30...-use-doctrine/

    The model railroad industry reached a settlement with the railroads to have permission to use railroad logos. Note the "have permission" part of that sentence. I know of no such agreement that offers blanket permission to anyone making virtual content be it payware or freeware.

    Copyright law is different from trademark law.

    Here is an example of copyright violation: You take someone's creation and try to pass it off as your creation.

    Here is an example of trademark violation: You manufacture a car and put Ford's logos on it and the advertising claims it is a Ford car. You are attempting to use Ford's reputation to sell your crappy car.

  5. #5
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    Err on the safe side. Contact the railroads' marketing departments and ask permission to use the logo. State clearly and precisely what you want to use their logo for and I'm sure they'll allow you to use it. They'll probably send you a 500-page book on how not to use their logo.

    The worst thing that can happen is you erred on the safe side, and you were told no you cannot. The alternative is a visit from lawyers and hefty fines.
    John
    Trainz User Since: 12-2003
    Trainz User ID: 124863
    Trainz-PLUS: 117669

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    Getting permission to use logos is probably the best thing to do, like any other piece of intellectual property. Not worth getting sued by a billion dollar corporation. Compared to the
    railroads, I am like an ant.

    Doing some research on the topic, I found out Union Pacific used to be pretty strict when it came to trademark protection. Back in the early 2000s, Union Pacific objected the
    use of its logos and trademarks in another train simulator game, Microsoft Train Simulator. To say people were angry is an understatement.

  7. #7
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    Honestly, railroads shouldn't care less about a product being sold for free with their trademark. I guess they should have an issue with payware but why be so stingy about it? Railroads need to learn to communicate better.

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    Hmm I'd say it depends on how the company is run. Some are protective of their trademarks and intend to keep tight controls over what parties are allowed to use them outside of the company for any reason. They're bureaucracies, they keep records and use a lot of red tape. The companies may strictly adhere to formal procedure and documentation for issues such as trademarks.

  9. #9

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    [URL="https://gouchevlaw.com/avoid-getting-hot-water-tm-sm-r-symbols/"]https://gouchevlaw.com/avoid-getting-hot-water-tm-sm-r-symbols/

    Navigating the world of trademarks for your product or service can be difficult, but wholly necessary to protect your assets. Luckily, throughout the entire registration process, you have different options for protecting your brand in the form of trademark symbols. The three symbols that can be used are the circled R (®), the little capital letters TM (™), and the little capital letters SM (℠). The circled R (®) can only be used once your good or service has been successfully registered, but the SM (℠) and TM (™) symbols can be used for common law protection while your application is pending.
    What Does Each Symbol Mean?

    Determining how and when to use each symbol begins with understanding what they mean. The circled R can only be used once you have a federal registration. This means you’ve applied for it and received a trademark registration from the US government.
    [*]Registered trademark symbol

    The registered trademark symbol (®) denotes that the good in question is registered in that country. This offers the highest level of protection that a registered trademark receives. It lets people know that this is a trusted, registered product and can discourage competitors from infringing on the asset you have registered. In the simplest form, it functions as a green light for consumers who know they can trust that it’s the product they’re looking for and serves as a red light for competitors looking to capitalize off of your brand through infringement.

    [[*]Trademark symbol[/LIST]
    A trademark symbol (™), is a mark that represents goods, like clothing or sunglasses. This symbol indicates that you are claiming rights within that mark and will potentially deter others from using it. Additionally, the TM symbol can provide common law trademark rights to the user. This is the symbol you should use while you are waiting for your application to be reviewed by the USPTO to obtain a federal registration.

    [*]Service mark symbol[/LIST]
    SM stands for service mark. Service marks are marks that represent services as opposed to goods. For example, Josh owns Gerben Perrott Law Firm. He offers legal services and therefore would use the SM service mark.
    When Do I Use Each Symbol?

    Registered Trademark (®) – after registration is approved
    You are not allowed to use the circled R before you receive the registration. If you apply for the trademark and then begin using the circled R, it can be grounds for the government to deny the trademark application, because using that circled R is actually a violation of federal law unless you own the trademark registration.
    Trademark (™) – when claiming rights to a good without a registration
    The ™ symbol is to be used when claiming rights to a good without a trademark registration. It can offer common law trademark rights to the user of the symbol and is the correct symbol to use in the interim while waiting for your registered trademark application to be approved.
    Service Mark (℠) – when claiming rights to a service without a registration
    The ℠ symbol is to be used when claiming rights to a service without a trademark registration. The use of this mark is similar to that of the ™ except that it is used when claiming a service as your own. This is also a symbol to be used while waiting for your registered trademark application to be approved. In our conversation, we tend to use the word “trademark” to refer to both trademarks and service marks. The term “service mark” isn’t used very often as it is more of a technical thing. But if you are offering a service and wish to claim rights in your trademark, the SM mark is the technically correct symbol for your situation.
    How Do I Use Each Symbol?

    Where should the symbol be placed when using it on a logo or mark?
    All three trademark symbols should be placed in the top right corner following the mark in question. In the case that you choose to use regular-sized typography, it is acceptable to place the symbol immediately following the mark.
    Should you use the symbol on your trademark application?
    The trademark registration application is strictly for the asset you wish to mark so it should not include any official trademark symbol. If it is included in your application, this would be flagged as unable to register and would require a trademark office action to address. If the application uses the ® symbol, it would result in a rejection due to a violation of federal law. It is against federal law to use the ® symbol before you receive a registered trademark. Don’t make this mistake! The guidance of an experienced trademark attorney would flag this in your application and prevent rejection.
    If your trademark is registered abroad, can you use the symbols in the U.S.?
    If your trademark is registered outside of the U.S., you cannot use the ® to denote a registered trademark in the U.S. Simply put, in order to use a ® symbol in the United States, your mark must be registered with the USPTO.
    Once you’ve got an understanding of when and where to use the trademark symbols, their application is fairly straightforward. However, if you’re ever in doubt or looking for guidance in the trademark application process, turning to an experienced attorney like Gerben Law is always a great idea.

  10. #10
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    I would guess for freeware you're probably fine, especially if you upload to the DLS. It may get tricky with 3rd party sites so I maybe would err on the safe side there.

    Payware, yeah you should get in touch with the railroads.

  11. #11
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    Sorry, some of you are still confusing copyright law with trademark law. A trademark must be vigorously defended or a company can lose their trademark protection. Ignoring the use of a trademark without permission being granted is a legally dubious idea for a trademark holder to engage in.

    https://arapackelaw.com/trademarks/c...rk-protection/

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    I hear what you're saying, wreeder, and I'm sure payware creators must have some sort of agreement with the railroads. But would, say, Union Pacific, really exercise that so-called "vigorous defense" in coming after every single person who's ever uploaded a UP skin to the DLS? Sure, legally they probably could. But would it ever actually be done? I highly doubt it.

  13. #13
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    If you are looking for a reasonably official GE LOGO font. hit me up. I probably have one.

    And the idea behind NOT SELLING it so you might be OK is pretty much correct. The lawyers, due to the way the trademark laws work, are forced to 'nip it in the bud' or it allows the trademark owners to "lose control of it". As in, you did not adequately "STOP" the offender... so you by default said it was "OK". UP takes this trademark protection thing pretty seriously.
    Last edited by PWillard; May 18th, 2022 at 01:16 PM.
    http://www.railsimstuff.com

    Just using Blender now... You probably have used my fonts...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by soap__ View Post
    I hear what you're saying, wreeder, and I'm sure payware creators must have some sort of agreement with the railroads.
    This is true. Licensing is real.

    Quote Originally Posted by PWillard View Post
    And the idea behind NOT SELLING it so you might be OK is pretty much correct. The lawyers, due to the way the trademark laws work, are forced to 'nip it in the bud' or it allows the trademark owners to "lose control of it". As in, you did not adequately "STOP" the offender... so you by default said it was "OK". UP takes this trademark protection thing pretty seriously.
    This pretty much explains it all. UP was so bad about it cause they got burned by it. It was not in the model or hobby sphere but it was a music video IIRC featuring a UP "Centennial" that showed some other not so great content - look it up. It was shortly after they started going after model railroad mfrs for licensing due to a crackdown of trademark use. It was initially very unreasonable but after a few cases it got to the point it is now.
    Last edited by norfolksouthern37; May 18th, 2022 at 01:38 PM.

  15. #15
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    Unfortunately, Trademark legislation varies by country as well.
    as noted above, the USA requires trademark owners to vigorously protect their trademark.
    There’s a recent (last week) case where a pub decided to add the village name to its trading name, only to receive a cease & desist letter from Vogue (magazine) - the village is about 300 years older, but the magazine lawyers simply scan the list of registered companies.

    getting permission does seem to be a safe wat forward…

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