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Is It Okay To Use Real Designs In My Game Due To Copyright? [Cars And Guns]

Hello everyone,

I am making a game like GTA but a small version of it. I am currently using real weapon and car designs in my game, however, I use made-up names. For example; Jaguar F-Type. The design is the same but the car’s name is “Panther R” in the game. Same thing for the weapons. For example; MP5. The design is the same but the weapon’s name is “Compact SMG” in the game. Do I have to worry about any copyright issues?

I see some games using real car designs. For example; Traffic Racer, which is a mobile game for Android. In the game, the real car designs are used but there is no name or logo in the game.

What can I say… If you’re Elon Musk you’ll likely get away with it. For everyone else its better to not risk it… Do what Saints Row or other games that don’t have licensing agreements do. Make the cars different enough that lawyers don’t get interested. Simply dropping logos and calling them something else is unlikely to cut it iirc. But as always, ask an expert (IANAL). There are past posts with more comprehensive answers if you search. But my take on those was don’t risk it!

It is a bit complicated, I guess. How do the other games that use real designs avoid from this? Is it also related to the country you are in?

A car has a design patent attached to it which can be used against you if you try to make something very similar. By not using the name of the car you just avoid the brand protection.

Most game companies want to avoid any legal issues and decide to make their own designs entirely.

If in doubt ask your own lawyer.

@ClavosTech @GarnerP57 I want to ask an additional question, maybe you guys have an idea about it. What if the cars and the weapons are used as 2D images? (No logos and names)

You won’t learn much from asking me… I am not a lawyer who has looked through the outcome of existing cases. Personally I would stay far away from even look-a-likes that can be connected to existing brands.

This discussion comes up every year lol
In the end everyone agrees it’s your own risk and most likely it’s not worth it.

Do like Epic does for Fortnite, create your own weapon designs, vehicles, airplanes, etc.
In fact it’s kind of fun to create your own thing anyway…

+1 … Always a good creativity exercise. But it can be hard too when your game has Lambos etc, as they’re hard to replace. I’d say to the OP: Don’t do anything right now. Finish the game, then put it in private alpha and see how much people like it. If you get a great response, then the extra re-design is worth it. If not, focus on the next game… :slight_smile:

Just read some of the car descriptions on Vehicles in Grand Theft Auto V | GTA Wiki | Fandom

“The 190z is a dual combination of the Datsun 240Z/Nissan Fairlady Z/Nissan S30 and Toyota 2000GT

“The Cheburek is a mix of various models of Lada Classic lineup. Its sides resemble the trimless sides of the VAZ-2101 while the front end is borrowed from the VAZ-2106. The rear is extremely similar to that of the Datsun 510, but relevant to the Lada line of cars is closer to the VAZ-2101 but with minor changes such as more detailed taillights and a rear mounted licence plate light instead of a bumper mounted light.”

“The car’s design heavily resembles the Ferrari Testarossa, with elements of the Ferrari 512 BB from its taillights and frontal area and also elements of the Ferrari 288 GTO from its fog lights, hood and air vents behind the rear wheels.”

GTA remixes various real world cars into a unique designs. The same is done with weapons. Lamborghini has a much harder time suing for copyright infringement if the back of the car looks more like a Ferrari. And then Lamborghini would have to be able to claim then own those design queues, which likely wouldn’t hold up in court, because a lot of design is inspired and referenced by other cars, and it’s hard to label any part of a design as completely unique.

You can’t just remove the logo and change the name, the design needs to be a bit different as well though it can be similar. Copyright extends to how things look as well, not just names.

Games with real world cars have licensing agreements with the manufacturers. The latest Need for Speed game wasn’t allowed to have Toyota’s cars in it because Toyota didn’t want their brand associated with illegal street racing (iirc).

I was thinking the same thing. I’ll release a closed Beta and see if it’s worth it to change all the design depending on the players’ views