I have an application called 2oobbllee.

I have received an email from owner of the Dobble trademark saying that I infringe its rights. Is it true?

I opine that the choice of yours remains disputable. You are flirting with our name and there is no other reason for you to do that other than to capitalize as much as you can with the fame associated to DOBBLE.

Are they right? I don't understand that law.

  • 4
    You really should get some competent legal help. – Ron Trunk Mar 9 at 14:25
  • Do they have a point? How similar is your game to theirs? – Robert Harvey Mar 9 at 14:33
  • @RobertHarvey Actually they do not have a game in the Appstore, but they sell it as a card game. Concept is simply the same: find the same image on any 2 cards. I use it in the mobile app. All around is totally different: multiplayer, modes, challenges and so on. They dont have it at all. – Bartłomiej Semańczyk Mar 9 at 14:37
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    So it's essentially the same game at its foundation, but in an electronic form. And you've taken their name, which was derived from the word "double," and you've doubled the letters. Ron's right; you need to seek legal counsel. – Robert Harvey Mar 9 at 14:42
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    If you want everything to be fine, don't rely on random people online for advice. Consult a lawyer. – Studoku Mar 9 at 16:26

A person who uses a name similar to an existing protected trademark may have committed trademark infringement. The trademark owner can sue, and possibly collect significant damages, and possibly also get an injunction against further infringement. Note that this is not a matter of a crime, but of a lawsuit by one person or business against another.

(A point of terminology: A trademark, like a copyright, is said to be "infringed" when someone uses it without permission in ways that the law does not allow. The word "broken" is not used for this.)

In many countries, only marks properly registered with the appropriate national registry are protected. In the US simply using the mark can lead to its being protected, although registration can give greater rights to the mark owner.

Protection in one country does not give protection in another.

In general, protection only applies in the same or a similar market area as that in which the mark is already being used. An electronic game may well be similar enough to a card or board game for protection to apply.

A key question is how similar a mark can be and avoid infringement. The basic test is if a reasonable person could be confused into thinking that the products were from the same maker, or were affiliated, or that the maker of the original product or service endorsed the new one. This is always something of a judgement call. If a mark is similar enough that a judge or jury might think that some reasonable consumers would be confused or mislead, then there is risk of an adverse judgement.

Note that even an unfounded suit may be costly to defend. If there is any question, consulting an experienced trademark lawyer may well be a good idea.

I will not express an opinion of the similarity of "2oobbllee" and "Dobble". That would be legal advice. But if the OP were to change the name of the app, the whole matter would seem to be finished with no risk of court action.

Note that the concept of a game, unlike the name, cannot be protected, neither by trademark law nor by copyright law,

  • Thank you @David Siegel. – Bartłomiej Semańczyk Mar 9 at 19:28
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    Not “some consumers would be confused or misled”. The law is that a reasonable consumer might be. Some consumers are idiots. – Dale M Mar 9 at 20:28
  • @Dale M. I added the word "reasonable" which was already used earlier in the same paragraph, to help make the meaning clear. I wouldn't want to create any confusion, after all. – David Siegel Mar 9 at 20:55
  • @Dale M. If you were the downvoter, do you think the correction sufficient? – David Siegel Mar 9 at 21:17
  • I wasn’t but I’m still not entirely happy. You say “reasonable persons” like you can point to Jim and Sharon and Dave and say “there they are. The reasonable person is a fiction not an actuality. They are what the judge or jury imagines a hypothetical reasonable person in the situation would do. – Dale M Mar 9 at 21:50

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