IoT 9: Chiptune and Trademarks

Last Updated on November 24, 2021

First Published on November 22, 2021

We are people online, and we tends to search a fact online. However, the information online used to give us particulous thoughts. In this time, judging whether something online true or false is perfectly relied on our own mind.

The description below is my opinion to use my Game Boy as my music sequencer. You must check laws of the nation you're living on your usage.

The disease seems to have some 1% rule so far, and I'm guessing several events on venues are planned right now. Chiptune had signed a boom 2 years ago. In this time, planners would be thinking of events with chiptune. Flyers of events may be filled with game consoles, but it's a wrong idea. For example, Game Boy still has rights, i.e., the company name, the product name, and the exterior of the game console for bags and apparel. Guitarists know that holding an event called the name such as "Fender Rock Night" will be claimed as free riding by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. An event like "[Some] Chiptune Night" should be also taken care with this manner by a planner.

* Even on college parties, the manner for trademarks is also applied. If you don't understand the conflict between your culture and gaming business, please contact with a counselor in your school.

I checked out Little Sound DJ (LSDj) which is a software music sequencer running on Game Boy. I'm thinking to use it because the sound of Game Boy is significantly fatter than the sound of NES. The sound of NES is epoch-making "pico" sound, and the resemble sound can be enjoyed by 8-bit chiptune makers running on major OS like YMCK Magical 8bit Plug. However, each sound is unique. The sound of NES is like a single coil pick up of a guitar, and the sound of Game Boy is like a humbucker. The reason of developing 8-bit chiptune on Game Boy is apparently induced by its programmable sound generator (PSG) which was matured when game consoles started to replacing PSG to FM synthesis or PCM (pulse-code modulation) for sound units. Moreover, Game Boy has a stereo mini jack.

In using Game Boy as a music sequence, there are issues about trademarks. Game Boy is Nintendo's product trademark, and Nintendo is a company trademark. The exterior of Game Boy is also trademarked for bags and apparel. Nintendo asked software vendors to be authorized if vendors sell cartridges installed their software. Nintendo manufactured almost all NES cartridges by itself, and I guess Game Boy cartridges were also manufactured by Nintendo. This well-known system was introduced because of hiding wrong quality of software that made the video game crash of 1983. The technology that displaying Nintendo trademark after powering-on seemed to be patented (特許2820938) in Japan and in the U.S. (PAT.NO.5,134,391) to prevent spreading wrong and pirated software. According to an information online, Nintendo filed a lawsuit against a company that made Game Boy cartridges in the U.S., and I think the basis of this lawsuit would be the patent and registered designs. Nintendo also used to file lawsuits against gadgets (e.g., booster buttons) and businesses that destroy qualities of games that Nintendo intended such as difficulty. Besides, Nintendo has filed lawsuits against polluting, diluting, and free riding on its trademarks. Although patents and registered designs for Game Boy has been already expired, any action with free riding on Nintendo's trademarks isn't fair business.

* "GAME BOY" and 「ゲームボーイ」are registered trademarks of Nintendo for many kinds of products, software, related services, and promotional activities. Especially, the exterior of the game console is registered as a trademark for bags and apparel (Japan number is 登録商標第6036546号, and USA number is Registration No. 5604523). Besides, these trademarks of Nintendo shouldn't be ridden freely, polluted, and diluted because these are famous internationally. Respect products and services of Nintendo on music stages not to pollute and dilute their values in addition to hiding free riding. Remodeled Game Boys also shouldn't be sold. Note that car manufactures have the right to stop reselling cars remodeled by others. Selling guitar pedals shaped the exterior of Game Boy is the source of a lawsuit, i.e., dragon's teeth.

* 任天堂株式会社. 外部メモリとそれを用いる情報処理装置. 特許第2820938号. 1998-11-05.

* Nintendo Company Limited. Okada, Saturo. System for preventing the use of an unauthorized external memory. U.S. Patent 5,134,391. 1992-07-28

There was the online rumor that some Japanese TV network banned to use Game Boy as a musical instrument in its program. People thought sound from Game Boy can't be used at least on TV stages in Japan. However, I think the rumor from Japanese TV network was just the business matter between the TV network and Nintendo. TV networks are just advertising machines in every aspect, and displaying trademarks become advertising even if it's displayed on your TV accidentally. I guess the TV network offered some TV program like "Chiptune Party", riding on Nintendo's trademarks, but Nintendo rejected the offer. Whether you're living outside of Japan or not, you need to take care of trademarks when you hold music events even if your events collaborated with TV networks. Caution that Japanese diplomats never have any privilege to permit your event with any trademark made in Japan.

I think the possibility that Nintendo will collaborate with any musician or any TV network as a musical instruments manufacture is low at least in the near future, because Nintendo is just a renowned manufacture of game consoles. On searching registered trademarks, I find out Nintendo thinks to produce musical instruments. However, this option on its business hasn't been executed. Musicians would feel complexity to use their Game Boys. Nintendo were founded in Kyoto where people have produced high quality silk fabrics since the 16th century. Probably, Nintendo would be passionate about the quality of games as well as their fabrics, especially for its Switch right now.

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