I'm working on a computer game, where the player will be controlling a fictional country in the 1950s.
I want to make it possible for the player to purchase products with real life brand names. For instance, the player should be able to equip his transport company with Ford trucks, his air force with Grumman air planes, his army with Browning rifles etc.
I have absolutely no intent to defame any of these brands. However, for the purpose of making the game interesting I really need to give different properties for products from different brands. A North American F-86 Sabre fighter would be a faster airplane than a Bell P-39 Airacobra, for instance.
If I show good faith by using a documented approach, like sourcing all product specifications from wikipedia, and not inventing any of my own, would it be reasonable to say no defamation/tarnishing would be happening?
I could of course invent my own brand names, but that would diminish the sense of realism in the game. I'd like to be able to sell the game in the EU and USA at least.
Can I use trademarked brand names in my game?
Edit: Having researched this a bit more, I've found that the original Transport Tycoon game had to invent fictional trains, buses, airplanes etc because of trademark-issues. Doesn't bode well for my idea ...