I have planned an aviation-focused game and have a question regarding the company names of the aircraft manufacturers: could I legally use names of planes, such as the Boeing 707, and Lockheed C-130?
Hmm, I think by putting some words on your game like “these xyz plane is property of abc company” is enough. But then, Project Aces contacted related companies that own certain aircraft’s trademark.
You’re not planning to do Ace Combat, right?
Unless you’re intending to deliberately misrepresent something (e.g. having the 707 invented by Lockheed Martin—and even then it probably wouldn’t be a problem in an ‘alternate reality’ setting!) it really shouldn’t be a problem. Trademark rights are more about infringement (illegal copying of) and gross misrepresentation (the 707 always crashing on take-off in your story) rather than whether or not they get mentioned in fiction, or even feature heavily (say, in the story of a pilot).
Better do some research. Some companies are really nitpicky about this and chargea fee for use of their trademarked names.
Even games like Grand Theft Auto, from large companies with enormous budgets, have used made-up names instead of the real ones. It might be easier if you just use your creativity to come up with similar-sounding ones.
Copyright law is very complicated and a real pain to navigate.
I agree with @Vendetta, it depends on how you plan on using the planes/names. It’s kind of a grey area, but unless you’re going to run into deformation territory (like having the aircraft continually have engine faults and crashing killing people) I suspect the use of an aircraft name, is unlikely to result in reprisals. (I’ve seen them mentioned in books before.) Often it’s easier to substitute to be sure, like saying you drank soda instead Fanta, or making up a name for an airline company, but if you want a specific plane to be recognisable, names would help. (If you’re talking about a Boeing 707, most of your target audience would immediately know what you’re referring to. If you have a made up name like Airlyner 77, not so much.) Anyway do some searching, I looked it up a while ago and that was the consensis I seemed to find. If you think there’s going to be an issue and you’re publishing through HG, check with COG if they have an issue with the way you’re using a brand name.
Couple of quick links
(If you read them, you’ll see there was a case where Mercedes didn’t like how their car was shown in a movie and the studio had to delete the badges. TBH I doubt that would happen for a book unless it became a world wide best seller (here’s always hoping though ) and you misused the brand. The worst is likely that you’d have to change some names.)
Brands in Games
Just had a spark of mad genius… had to do with a “Boing” airplane being made out of springs…