Supposing someone (whether an individual, small company like an indie game studio, or large game publisher with an established legal department (EA, Microsoft, etc)) wants to make a flight simulator product - or generic car racing game - featuring aircraft or vehicles from real-life (say, a Boeing 737 in a flight-sim, or Ford Focus in a rally-racing game)…
- Is it always required to obtain a license to use the aircraft/vehicle maker’s trademarks, even when used strictly nominatively, with attribution?
- My understanding is that nominative use does not require a license.
- …and to model an in-game/in-sim vehicle based on a real-life vehicle’s technical performance statistics? (But not necessarily its visual appearance or aesthetic likeness)
- My understanding is that technical specifications and performance/handling statistics are not “protected” by any IP law (besides database-rights, which don’t apply in this case).
- …and to have a recreation of a vehicle’s visual appearance or aesthetic design?
My understanding is that in most cases this is required because the design of a car is copyrighted - but this doesn’t seem to be uniformly applicable in all situations: obviously the devs/publishers of Gran Turismo are going to license car designs from Ferrari and Porsche, but e.g. in games built on parody or satire, that such a license likely wouldn’t ever be given - but isn’t necessary due to legal protections for satire. But where is the line drawn between irreverence and satire? Why or when should the law distinguish between those types of games?
What about military aircraft in flight simulators? There are plenty of serious, non-satire, games and simulators using the names, likeness, and specifications of dozens or more real-world aircraft, including aircraft for which are probably un-licensable due to their classified nature (such as the comprehensive set of enemy aircraft in EF 2000 and other flight sims from the early 1990s when formerly-Soviet aircraft makers were simply too culturally detached from western game-makers, assuming they could even be contacted at all, or even had legal departments concerned with media IP rights at all).
…and what about megaprojects like 80,000+ tonne aircraft carriers or SSBNs that don’t have a single contractor or conceivably any copyright over their overall aesthetic design?