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You are a SHADOW AGENT. Your job: infiltrate the secret lair, evade capture, find the control room, and stop the doomsday device! You are a MASTER VILLAIN. Your job: capture the meddling agent, rule the world!
You are a SHADOW AGENT. Your job: infiltrate the secret lair, evade capture, find the control room, and stop the doomsday device! You are a MASTER VILLAIN. Your job: capture the meddling agent, rule the world!
1,262 backers pledged $7,938 to help bring this project to life.

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    1. JKP
      Superbacker
      on

      I'm new so just catching up. Why not go with
      "Shadow Agent: Piss up a Stump"
      or a little more in your face as
      "Shadow Agent: Piss up a Stump, Esmanech"

    2. Matthew
      Superbacker
      on

      P.S. I didn't mean to write "zombie apocalypse" game. It was just stuck in my head after you mentioned it.

    3. Matthew
      Superbacker
      on

      Change it to "Agents of the Shadow" or something just to give them grief.
      On a more serious note, did they offer proof? And is the similarly named game ALSO a zombie survival type of game? I guess it depends on what country you're in, but most countries have to look at the name, trademarks, and content to make a comparison.
      If it's a very different game/program/series/whatever, you just need to show them the differences before jumping around trying to change the name unnecessarily.

      PLEASE NOTE: You don't need a lawyer, just a well worded response requesting justification for their claim and the similarities between the products and on what points your product is infringing on their *unregistered* copyright! Request that they be as detailed as possible regarding any alleged infringements of their artwork, backstory, of overall premise. Your response should also include a requested, reasonable timeframe for them to compare the product and present evidence of their allegations back to your for assessment. Request that they be as detailed as possible...

    4. Chuck Dee
      Superbacker
      on

      I've also seen Kickstarters derailed for exactly the same reason. Apparently, all they have to do is show probable cause, and kickstarter will remove your project until it is resolved. Changing the name is the most prudent thing to do.

    5. Matt Drake
      Superbacker
      on

      Chris, I've been sued for the same exact thing, and it doesn't matter if you're right or how a court would rule. Unless you're willing to spend 10 grand to be right, it's not worth it.

      Changing the name is the right call. Make sure the legal beagle-slash-turd burglar is OK with the name change, and call it a lesson learned.

    6. Alvin Helms
      Superbacker
      on

      @Briggsy: Whoops, sorry, my mistake. I am not accustomed to compliments, so I just instinctively assumed it was sarcasm. Call it an itchy trigger finger, of sorts. ;)

      Cease Fire hereby declared, though. We're all on the same side, and we all want to see Christopher Ferguson's Shadow Agents -- not to be confused with any other game with a similar title -- do well.

      Hell, I don't even mind if any similarly-titled game does well, too -- as long as its Creator stops acting as though he invented the words.

    7. Briggsy
      Superbacker
      on

      Alvin I was actually complimenting you, back reading my comment I can see the misunderstanding and why it can easily be read as sarcasm but I assure you it was not meant that way. :)

    8. A. C.
      Superbacker
      on

      I appreciate you telling us, so we know how petty this dude is

    9. Missing avatar

      Ray on

      I know...you could have a naming competition! LOL

    10. Fraborak on

      "Black things where the sun does not shine agent"

    11. Missing avatar

      Kraig Higashi on

      That's weak. Should rename it, Shadow Agent: Esmanech's Cease and Desist. I'd buy a few copies just for the background.

    12. Alvin Helms
      Superbacker
      on

      @Christopher: If I were in your position, I would tell the "Lawyer" to shove it where the sun don't shine, and call the game "Shadow Agents" -- because I am 100% certain that no one, anywhere, has any legal claim to prevent you from doing so. No court would ever rule against you, and no amount of squawking would ever get it into a courtroom (in this country, anyway) in the first place, because it is an indisputable fact that the aforementioned game has neither claimed nor registered any Trademark in the USA.

      And I know this for a fact, not only because the game lacks any ™ or ®, but because I checked: http://www.uspto.gov/trademark -- and there *is* in fact a website that has registered "Shadow Agent," but it has nothing to do with Michele Esmanech or his game.

      However, I am obstinate and prone to fighting over Matters of Principle. So personally, I would *relish* the opportunity to shove that case back down the claimant's own throat.

      If you are *not* so disposed, then you may prefer to back down. That's entirely up to you, and I don't think anyone would fault you for avoiding conflict -- even if solely out of courtesy, since, again, there is absolutely *no* legal reason to do so.

      If you do decide to change it, perhaps you could offer a contest to suggest a new title. Perhaps the winner could get a free copy (or several copies) of your game.

    13. Alvin Helms
      Superbacker
      on

      @Briggsy: I am not a Lawyer, and I did not claim to be one. What I am is a Writer and a Graphic Designer who has had actual experience in dealing with both Copyright and Trademark law -- so I know what those laws allow and what they do not.

      And it doesn't take any special experience anyway to understand that nobody can put a Trademark on a common combination of words that predated any claimant's use of them. If you doubt it, then try to register a Trademark on something like "Top Secret." See how far that gets you.

    14. Christopher Ferguson 11-time creator on

      It's not like changing the name of the game would crush my inner child forever, or anything. It's just irritating that someone thinks this could damage someone or something. Really, what amount of human suffering will occur because of this Kickstarter?

    15. Briggsy
      Superbacker
      on

      I smell a lawyer in our midst that wants to give "free advice" His name should be written in stone for all to remember for all of time. I hear you whisper to each other asking if this is possible and what could this mans name be???? Alvin Helms be his name. Scorch this honourable name onto your inner cranium. ;)

    16. Christopher Ferguson 11-time creator on

      "Shadow Agent: The Actually Published Game"

    17. Missing avatar

      Ray on

      Or you could call it, "Shadow Agent: The game that is being produced!"

    18. Alvin Helms
      Superbacker
      on

      @Christopher: If you want to use the title "Shadow Agents" -- certainly with the final 'S', and probably even without it -- there is absolutely no legal reason that you cannot do so.

      First of all, there is a difference between Copyright and Trademark.

      No one can hold a Copyright on a title. Copyrights are for the contents, not titles, and any real Lawyer ought to know that -- so any "Lawyer" referring to a Copyright on a title has no idea what he's talking about, and is probably not worth the paper his business cards are printed on.

      (And just for reference, a Copyright is automatic upon publication. It does *not* need to be registered.)

      A product's name or title *can* be protected by a Trademark -- but under U.S. law (which is the only law that matters to a U.S. citizen) that Trademark must be claimed and *marked* as such (with the ™ symbol at least, or the ® if it is actually registered), it must be actively defended, and the use of the mark must be "confusingly similar" before any legal action is possible.

      In the case of Michele Esmanech's "Shadow Agent," although threatening you may constitute presumptuous active defense, no Trademark has been legally claimed or registered -- because there is no ™ or ® on his game -- and given the ubiquity of the term "Shadow Agent," I doubt very much that a Trademark would *ever* be granted to that title, even if he tried to register it. It is a generic term, which existed prior to Michele Esmanech's game, and granting it a Trademark would violate Free Speech.

      So Michele Esmanech holds no Trademark over the term -- and no legal action is possible, no matter what kind of noise he might make.

      Furthermore, even if he *had* registered a Trademark on that title (which, again, he has *not*), taking legal action would require his "Lawyer" to demonstrate that an average customer is likely to confuse your game with his -- and that means more than just having the same words, it means having a physical resemblance between the logo graphics in which they appear. Merely having the same words in the title is not usually enough of a similarity on its own, unless the senior user's title is broadly-known and well-established. (For example, if you try to call your game "Dungeons & Dragons," you're going to get sued, and rightly so, even if you render the title in Comic Sans.)

      So with all due respect to Michele Esmanech, he can go piss up a stump. Call your game whatever you want.

    19. Christopher Ferguson 11-time creator on

      He has suggested that I subtitle it. So I could rename it "Shadow Agent: Totally Not the Print & Play Game That's Been Around For Years."

    20. Missing avatar

      Ray on

      You could always name it "Skullcrusher Mountain"....no that is already taken as well. :)

    21. Missing avatar

      Jake Staines
      Superbacker
      on

      I presume this is Michele Esmanech's Shadow Agent you're talking about? I'd completely forgotten it had the same name!

      If that's the case, I believe he did actually get it signed with a publisher years ago, but it fell through - last I heard I think he'd got another publishing deal, so it's not unreasonable that they might go around defending the name if they're planning to publish under the title the Print and Play version has been known under for ages.

      "Registering" a copyright seems to be an American thing - in the UK, Italy and I believe most of Europe at the least it's completely unnecessary, and the same international treaties that protect /Lord of the Dead/ from being ripped off by Europeans also protect valid European copyrights from being infringed in the US even if we haven't gone through your registration procedure.

      It's a pain in the neck, sure, but I think it's better for everyone involved if two games don't have the same name, in the long run. Next time search on BGG before finalising your title!

      (Also, if it's the same one I'm thinking of, I believe Michele is a lawyer and a game designer at once, so he'll be at least half useful in a zombie apocalypse. ;-)

    22. Justin Baker
      Superbacker
      on

      So, you had to make "Agent" in to "Agents" - I guess I can live with that. ;)

    23. Timothy
      Superbacker
      on

      Ugh! Lawyers and copyright! Don't get me started!