Monday, August 16, 2010

Praise Wii the Lord

Dear Rich: I am a children's minister and try to keep my programming up to date with what the kids are excited about. This fall I wanted to call our program WiiConnect. Would this be a copyright infringement? I might put out a few promotional items but because it is for a church there is no charge for any of it. It's not copyright infringement, but your use of the Wii terminology might violate trademark laws if it creates the impression that Nintendo endorses or is associated with the program you are offering. Even if your use does not violate traditional trademark infringement rules -- after all you and Nintendo are not competing -- it may violate trademark dilution rules.
Would Nintendo care? You might think that a tech company would want to avoid the publicity associated with sending C&D letters to a man of the cloth but as the God Squad/Geek Squad brouhaha shows, you can't predict the corporate benevolence factor. 
Bottom line. We know that gambling is not on your church's to-do list, but if we were a betting blog, we think your kids program will probably be able to get by using the terminology -- provided it's only for a few months, and it's a low profile event (not part of a national campaign). (Part of the God Squad issue was that the use has continued for years.) It wouldn't hurt to include a subtitle to your program that will serve as a sort of a disclaimer. For example, "WiiConnect: The crossroads between gaming and spirituality," or some statement that highlights that you are using the Wii in an informational, non commercial manner.