Avoiding Legal Minefields in the World of Minecraft
The game Minecraft has produced opportunities for many to develop revenue streams in association with Minecraft gameplay. For avid users of Minecraft, the ability to combine fun with income increases the pleasure derived from the fascinating world of Creepers, Builders, and more. However, before diving into these endeavors, persons seeking to earn revenue in association with Minecraft should consider a few standard legal principles to ensure a legally safe and sound experience. In this series of articles, I will discuss some of the more general legal principles that related to earning revenue in association with Minecraft and other game environments.
You Cannot Do Anything You Want on the Internet
Many people possess the misperception that they can do anything they want on or through the Internet. This is not true. Thus, the first principle to understand is that you cannot do anything you want on the Internet. The sooner persons understand this principle and the corollary being that they should ask themselves (and, as applicable, parents or attorneys) the question, “Can I do this?”, the safer their endeavors will be.
Can I use the name of the product in my business?
Businesses invest a great deal of resources in developing their products and services. Oftentimes, the businesses will want to protect the names associated with their business, products, or services so that others cannot benefit from unauthorized use of these names. One means of doing so is to register the names as trademarks. Trademarks can be registered on a state level (within the United States), on a federal level (United States), or in other countries. And, businesses located in other countries can register trademarks here in the United States.
For example, Notch Development AB has a registered trademark for “Minecraft” for a broad range of categories including, but not limited to, software, games, clothes, and entertainment. Notch Development has also applied for registration of “Minecreft” as a mark in a variety of other types of products.
With Notch Development possessing a registered trademark in “Minecraft” in association with video games, another person cannot use the name “Minecraft” in association with video games without permission or license of Notch Development. Similarly, a person cannot begin to make and sell clothing with the word “Minecraft” on it without permission or license of Notch Development.
So, even if you happen to be offering a server operating the game “Minecraft”, you need to think about how you use the term Minecraft in doing so.
In the next segment Minecraft EULA, we will examine aspects of terms related to the use of Minecraft software.
This series of articles is intended to guide people in thinking about legal issues in using Minecraft. Notch Development and Mojang have been very reasonable in their business model. Our firm has respect for and appreciation of these entities in bringing this game to our world.
As a user of Minecraft (more in the Creative mode), and a father of children immersed in Minecraft legend and lore, I find it incredibly rewarding to represent young persons and others who operate Minecraft servers.
Minecraft is a registered trademark of Notch Development AB.