Hypothetically, if I made a chess board set and wanted to market it. could I make the pieces representative of other popular media types under copyright or IP rights? Example, Star Wars, Star Trek, games workshop and d&d miniatures.
If not, could I still market the board separately and include the pieces free of charge?
Or is this all considered unlawful without express permission from the copyright holders?
1 Answer from Attorneys
You can't make the pieces as you describe without permission or you will be committing straight up copyright infringement. If you buy licensed chess pieces you are buying them for your personal use. Reselling them on their own is fine and lawful under something called the "first sale doctrine" but bundling them together with your board may present a false association, sponsorship, endorsement or other affiliation with the Star Wars enterprise and therefore a possible trademark infringement. Remember too that many of these character are also registered trademarks at least presumably.
If you need more clarification, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
If you would like to discuss further over a free phone consult, feel free to contact me anytime that is convenient.
Our firm is now referred by the American Bar Association (see under the New York section): http://www.americanbar.org/groups/delivery_legal_services/resources/programs_to_help_those_with_moderate_income.html
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.
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