Does Roll20 get Kickstarters taken down if they mention them?

Bunker

Hero
"Do not promise Roll20 rewards for your campaign without our permission. Doing so is cause for us to contact the crowdfunding platform to have unauthorized use pulled from the site."


Does anybody know of a Kickstarter campaign that Roll20 has had pulled for including plans to make Roll20 compatible material? As in has that ever actually happened? I would think it would have been all over the news if it had?
 
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Retreater

Legend
"Do not promise Roll20 rewards for your campaign without our permission. Doing so is cause for us to contact the crowdfunding platform to have unauthorized use pulled from the site."


Does anybody know of a Kickstarter campaign that Roll20 has had pulled for including plans to make Roll20 compatible material? As in has that ever actually happened? I would think it would have been all over the news if it had?
I know of Kickstarters that were NOT pulled after offering Roll20 rewards. Not sure if they had a special arrangement with Roll20 or not.
 

Randomthoughts

Adventurer
"Do not promise Roll20 rewards for your campaign without our permission. Doing so is cause for us to contact the crowdfunding platform to have unauthorized use pulled from the site."


Does anybody know of a Kickstarter campaign that Roll20 has had pulled for including plans to make Roll20 compatible material? As in has that ever actually happened? I would think it would have been all over the news if it had?
This reads like a shot off the bow from Roll20 warning creators of what may happen if they do this going forward. Folks tend to take that better than simply going straight to KS to pull the project down.
 





MarkB

Legend
I'd be curious about their reasoning for this... Seems more like free advertising and traffic for them. But what do I know...
They may have had issues with content creators who didn't know what they were doing promising to build character creation or specialised game mechanical support in Roll20 without actually having any idea how to implement it, resulting in dissatisfied customers who either don't get their promised Roll20 support or get a terribly implemented version that adversely affects their playing experience.

That would be bad for Roll20's business as it makes the site look user-unfriendly.

Likewise, if a company is planning to offer products on Roll20's store, but those products turn out to contain content which Roll20 doesn't want to be seen selling, that could give Roll20 a bad name whether they allow the questionable content, or ban it and leave customers in the lurch.

Better to deal with such issues at the back end, when content creators are setting up their projects, rather than after the project goes public.
 

Bunker

Hero
I think my point is that you don’t need need permission to indicate compatibility with a brand. That’s well established in law (you don’t need Apple’s permission to make an iPhone case).

Trademark violation is about making people confused about who or what they are dealing with. If the page is clear that the creator isn’t Roll20, they can mention Roll20 to their heart’s content. Or McDonalds. Or Facebook. Or BMW. Or IKEA (looks around nervously for IKEA goons). You can indicate compatibility with those brands freely, as long as it’s clear you are not representing that brand.

(You can do it with D&D too as long as you’re not misrepresenting yourself or using confusingly similar trade dress).

So my question is still — has this ever actually happened, to anybody’s knowledge? Has Kickstarter ever agreed to take down a project at Roll20’s request on that basis?
 

MarkB

Legend
I think my point is that you don’t need need permission to indicate compatibility with a brand. That’s well established in law (you don’t need Apple’s permission to make an iPhone case).
This is more like making an iPhone app, though - and if you want to do that, and have it carried on the Apple store, you so very much do need to play ball with Apple.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
This is more like making an iPhone app, though - and if you want to do that, and have it carried on the Apple store, you so very much do need to play ball with Apple.
Yes, Apple can certainly stop you publishing an app in their App store, but Apple can't stop you telling people you intend to make an iPhone app (or accessory or phone case). And they can't stop you advertising that fact. I could state right now, right here, that I plan to make an iPhone app with no recourse.

Roll20 can decide what happens in their store, but they can't dictate what people do outside it, including making claims of compatibility, as long as they don't do so in a way as to confuse customers into thinking Roll20 is making or endorses the product.

What they could say is "If you try to make a Roll20 module KS without our permission, we won't let you use the product on our platform". But that's very different to what they're actually saying.

So I'd be curious, too, whether this has actually happened.
 

MarkB

Legend
Yes, Apple can certainly stop you publishing an app in their App store, but Apple can't stop you telling people you intend to make an iPhone app (or accessory or phone case). And they can't stop you advertising that fact. I could state right now, right here, that I plan to make an iPhone app with no recourse.
To some degree. But if you are offering that app as a reward in return for payment, you are making a commitment to deliver that app. And since iPhone apps can only be delivered through the App Store, you are now making a commitment upon Apple's behalf, that they can and will deliver the product you specify.

If it's a product that they either cannot (for technical reasons) or will not (for business or ethical reasons) deliver, your promise could be seen as defamatory to Apple, and they could take action to have it removed, or seek legal compensation from you.

It's the same situation with Roll20. In order for content to be available on Roll20, it has to be delivered as either a free or marketplace product via Roll20's website.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Generally speaking, you can't use their logo. And I think that's what Roll20's position is. You can't use their logo without their permission. That's not the same as claiming compatibility with their brand.

That said, you can sell off-brand ink for printers, or cases for phones, or apps for software, and you can say so. This is all perfectly legal. You run into problems when you make claims about the source of the product. I can make an accessory for Ford motor vehicles, and I can advertise it and sell it; I just can't claim it's made by or endorsed by Ford. I can run a garage which advertises that it repairs BMWs, as long as I'm not pretending I"m an authorised BMW dealer. I can make a phone charger or a D&D book.

It's more nuanced than that, obviously, so anybody planning on doing it should check with their lawyer. You'd have to make sure your ad copy is on point.

(I guess if Roll20 refuses to allow it on their store, your product isn't actually compatible, which means the customer has a cause of action against you).
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
If it's a product that they either cannot (for technical reasons) or will not (for business or ethical reasons) deliver, your promise could be seen as defamatory to Apple, and they could take action to have it removed, or seek legal compensation from you.
Defamation is an entirely different topic, and not really applicable here.
 

Bunker

Hero
This is more like making an iPhone app, though - and if you want to do that, and have it carried on the Apple store, you so very much do need to play ball with Apple.
While that is pragmatic and sensible, Apple can’t stop you running a Kickstarter for an app. They can prevent you putting the app in their App Store, but that’s a different issue entirely.
 

tomBitonti

Adventurer
Their text could use a clean up. They present two specific problems: Unauthorized trademark use, and unapproved promises of Roll20 support. But they conclude with “to have unauthorized use removed from the site.”, which matches the first problem, but is a bad match for the second. Better text world match the specificity more precisely. The unauthorized use (of the trademark) world be removed, and the unapproved promise of support would be removed. Nowhere does it say that the offering as a whole would be removed, although, that might be done as the simplest remedy until the problem use and/or promises were removed.

The text from the Roll20 page:
Roll20 works with publishers on an individual basis for crowdfunding campaigns. Use of the Roll20 trademark without our authorization is not allowed. Do not promise Roll20 rewards for your campaign without our permission. Doing so is cause for us to contact the crowdfunding platform to have unauthorized use pulled from the site.

Tom Bitonti
 

Bunker

Hero
Their text could use a clean up. They present two specific problems: Unauthorized trademark use, and unapproved promises of Roll20 support. But they conclude with “to have unauthorized use removed from the site.”, which matches the first problem, but is a bad match for the second. Better text world match the specificity more precisely. The unauthorized use (of the trademark) world be removed, and the unapproved promise of support would be removed. Nowhere does it say that the offering as a whole would be removed, although, that might be done as the simplest remedy until the problem use and/or promises were removed.

The text from the Roll20 page:


Tom Bitonti
I think the confusion arises with "Do not promise Roll20 rewards for your campaign without our permission" which is not something they can enforce, or even ethically demand. They can ask you not to use their logo in a manner which would confuse customers as to the source of the product, but they can't prevent you from advertising your plans to make a compatible product any more than Apple can prevent you advertising a phone charger. It feels like bluster, which is why I keep asking if anybody is aware of them having actually done this?
 

tomBitonti

Adventurer
I think the confusion arises with "Do not promise Roll20 rewards for your campaign without our permission" which is not something they can enforce, or even ethically demand. They can ask you not to use their logo in a manner which would confuse customers as to the source of the product, but they can't prevent you from advertising your plans to make a compatible product any more than Apple can prevent you advertising a phone charger. It feels like bluster, which is why I keep asking if anybody is aware of them having actually done this?
I’m thinking that promise of support can only be accomplished with the assistance of Roll20. Then, claiming Roll20 provide support would be similar to stating that Apple would be building the use of a specific application into iOS.

Tom Bitonti
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I’m thinking that promise of support can only be accomplished with the assistance of Roll20. Then, claiming Roll20 provide support would be similar to stating that Apple would be building the use of a specific application into iOS.
A claim of compatibility with another product, and a claim of support from that product’s manufacturer, are two very different claims. The latter is not what we’re talking about here.
 

tomBitonti

Adventurer
A claim of compatibility with another product, and a claim of support from that product’s manufacturer, are two very different claims. The latter is not what we’re talking about here.
Sure. The question is, what does “Roll20 reward“ mean, and how involved is Roll20 in providing a reward? If there is substantial work that must be done by Roll20 to create the award, then the Roll20 statement seems fine. If the award is simply a dataset that any current Roll20 user can import then the Roll20 statement seems too strong, and beyond what can be dictated.
Tom Bitonti
 

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