Several questions about legality of putting guns into your game

Question 1: So I heard it is rather dangerous to use the actual company’s name in the naming of guns(e.g. Beretta 92fs), but how dangerous is it to use a military designation like M9 or M9A1?

Question 2: If I were to put a company’s name/logo onto the gun model, how dangerous is that? For example, putting the Beretta logo onto the grips of the pistol or having ‘Beretta’ written on the slide of the gun.

Question 3: Does anyone know how likely it is for weapon manufacturers like Beretta/Colt/Sig Sauer to actually sue you for copyright? Very often or not very often? Assuming you’re a operating a medium-sized game.

Beretta (one that I know for sure) is very protective of how their guns are portrayed. It is common for gun manufactures to give input into a game’s design so they know their product is being accurately represented. As always, you need permission to display their logo, and to use their trademark.

Generally speaking, gun companies do not press issues regarding their guns in a game unless you misrepresent their product. This is a result of their enjoyment of the free advertising they get as part of games. Large FPS franchises such as CoD have never licensed the use of real guns. In fact they claim fair use of those guns in their products with a decent legal argument, but no manufacturer has had an interest in testing it since pulling their guns from a game doesn’t serve their needs.

Previous versions of Counter-Strike changed the names of the weapons to be on the safe side. The safest thing to do in my opinion would be to ask the manufacturers especially if you plan to use logos.

So I’m understanding from this is that I could put the names and logos of weapons into a game assuming the portrayal of the weapons are accurate and does not reflect negatively upon the weapon and its manufacturer.


Logos and trademark names does not fall under anything considered as being fair use as they are considered property.

Google this.

“EA and firearms copyright”

Further as to trade marks.,-it-means-the-world-to-us

Would they go after you?

50/50 but probably if your EA or become as big but really do we need to use branded products in a video game? Rule of thumb thought is there is really know way to figure out what will set someone off but if you become as big as EA then it’s 100% someone will sue you for some reason.

Interactive media is telling a narrative. A movie studio does not have to pay licensing to the brand owner of the phone their character uses and rather it is often phone companies paying for spots in the movie. A book character can talk about their new Porsche without needing to pay licensing fees. Likewise companies such as EA have never paid for the inclusion of guns in their products and have a fair legal groundwork with regards to the use of those products with regards to telling a narrative. They have certain artistic licenses under fair use.

So far no one has challenged this.

With regards to car licensing there is a huge bevvy of legal issues regarding representation. Sure car manufacturers do pay games to include their car or do so more prominently. One issue with regards to attempting to use a fair use claim with cars is they require company specific trademarks rather than simply the product itself. But this gets complicated by their licensing requirements of companies stating what is or is not a fair depiction of their product as some companies wouldn’t want their product in a game where civilians could be injured or the vehicle could be destroyed as it would misrepresent their brand. So car licensing is far more complex issue than gun licensing.

True and almost word for word EA’s argument.

Being right or wrong is not the reason why such actions occurs in the first place but rather silence and inaction are considered acceptance.

If the interest group does not respond then under civil law such use like branded weapons in a video game would be considered an agreement and a winnable defense and considered binding.

So back to the OP.

  1. Watch this.

If it makes it to market you just got some free legal advice.

  1. Not a good idea as I stated silence is considered acceptance so best practice requires the company to respond.
  2. Most likely you will receive a cease and desist notice.

In most cases companies are not bad guys but are just out to protect their best interest as you would having your interests protected. You would not be a happy person if someone used your stuff thinking it’s their right to do so and if you don’t say anything then it’s considered acceptance.

Thanks for bring that up (here’s a link for the lazy:,
I think it is also worth mentioning that some of the manufacturing industries for sports cars and even military focused aircraft/helicopter manufacturers are trying to get legislation in which would allow them to sue you if you don’t pay up to use their ‘signature’ audio from their machinery -_-

If you want to know the best way to get around this, it is to contact your local airsoft manufacture and negotiation some sort of partnership deal as they own a lot of the licenses to weapons from the manufacturers.

By doing that I hear it can make things soooo much easier to get a hold of the rights to use real weapon names, branding, etc. in your game over going the direct route and having to fight tooth and nail just to get the rights to use just 1 GUN IN GAME…

I believe one example of a developer who did this was Zombie Studios with their Special Forces: Team X Game (I’ll try to find some articles on the subject and update this post if/when I do)

There was a lawsuit over the helicopters EA used in BF 3:

My advice- put the weapons in you want. Games have the same fair use protection as book/tv/etc.

Cheers for providing the link and I think the comment by the user AmishKamikaze to SG-17 on 1/08/12 2:18pm on the Kotaku comments section sums it up pretty nicely.


Yes while I believe that to be a correct statement, you have to remember that these corporations see $$$ signs with the games industry at the moment however unless you’re some bigshot production house I believe you should be in the clear like others above have also expressed similar thoughts on the matter.