5 legal tips for success in mobile, tablet and handheld games


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Games lawyer Jas Purewal of Osborne Clarke explains 5 key legal tips that a mobile, handheld or tablet games business needs to succeed.

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5 legal tips for success in mobile, tablet and handheld games

  1. 1. 5 legal tips for success in mobile,handheld and tabletJas Purewal25 November 2011
  2. 2. osborneclarke.comIn this session…1. Contracts are your best friend2. Platform T&Cs are king3. Protecting and exploiting IP in mobile/tablet/handheld4. Data: with great power comes great responsibilities5. How to fund your games 1
  3. 3. osborneclarke.comAbout Osborne Clarke• Osborne Clarke is the leading UK/European law firm to the games industry• We advise the full range of games businesses from publishers to indies• We advise on matters including: contracts, IP, funding, corporate, tax, employment and disputes 2
  4. 4. osborneclarke.comAbout me• Im a games lawyer at Osborne Clarke – I advise clients like Nintendo, Stainless Games, AppyNation and Spilt Milk on contracts, IP and disputes issues• I write a blog dedicated to explaining legal issues to devs: www.gamerlaw.co.uk• I like Twitter: @gamerlaw• I am not Phoenix Wright :( 3
  5. 5. osborneclarke.comTip #1: Contracts are your best friend(Part 1)• Contracts are how you document (i) what you want; (ii) what the other guy wants; and (iii) what youre prepared to give each other to get it.• Used properly, you can use them to get stuff you wouldnt otherwise get and give less than youd otherwise have to.• Unfortunately, most devs leave contracts to the last minute, use a rubbish precedent borrowed off a mate, or ignore them. SADFACE.• My experience: its worth spending up to 10% of contract value to get it documented properly. 4
  6. 6. osborneclarke.comTip #1: Contracts are your best friend(Part 2)• Some quick tips when using contracts: • ALWAYS specify who owns the IP in detail. • Always specify the game details/deliverables. • Never ignore the boilerplate sections in a contract – if you dont know what that means, you need a lawyer. • Dont accept legalese: if you dont understand it, query it. • Remember a contract is a negotiation: ask for more than youll get and have a fall-back position ready. 5
  7. 7. osborneclarke.comTip #2: Platform T&Cs are king (Part 1)• Mobile/tablet/handheld depend on platforms, e.g. iOS.• This means the T&Cs governing the admission of your game on to that platform are the Word of God. Examples: • Facebook/LOL Apps • IUGO Entertainment: "The lesson [weve] learned…was how to deal with Apple. I dont think there will ever be clear guidelines. Its not possible for them to do so. Developers should understand that and take their own risks. If you dont want that risk the stay far, far away from those edges. Play safe within that circle." Hong-Yee Wong, CEO IUGO Entertainment (2011) 6
  8. 8. osborneclarke.comTip #2: Platform T&Cs are king (Part 2)• Tips for keeping on the right side of the platforms: • Read the platform T&Cs ideally at game concept level and consider what could be a problem. • Engage with the platforms at an early stage. • Remember T&Cs apply to patches/updates too. • Accept that the platforms are fickle and rejection/forced amendment is a risk. 7
  9. 9. osborneclarke.comTip #3: protecting and exploiting IP(Part 1)• IP law can be scary…but doesnt have to be.• Your game is made up of IP, e.g. copyright/database; trade marks; patents (possibly); and confidential information.• Protecting your IP means things like: • Making sure you have rights to future IP exploitation. • You control IP licences to anyone else. • You can leverage your IP. • Yes, and anti-piracy. 8
  10. 10. osborneclarke.comTip #3: protecting and exploiting IP(Part 2)• Tips to protect/exploit IP in mobile/tablet/handheld: • Game clones usually happen because youre not fast enough – so take your successful IP multi-platform before anyone else. • On the other hand, the law isnt very good at fighting clones/inspirations/free-riders: -> H.A.L.O. v N.O.V.A. -> Doodle Jump • If someone infringes/borrows your IP, use your fanbase as well as your lawyers. 9
  11. 11. osborneclarke.comTip #4: Data – with great power comesgreat responsibilities• Modern games can obtain a lot of useful data/metrics.• BUT, if you process personal data you are subject to data protection law (failure to comply can be criminal offence).• Even if you process anonymised data, privacy is a big consumer concern.• Solutions: • Use a privacy policy if you process any data • Think about your data usage from consumer perspective • Take steps to protect consumer data 10
  12. 12. osborneclarke.comTip #5: how to fund your games (Part 1)• Standard types of funding: • Debt (i.e. loans) • Equity (i.e. a shareholding in return for money)• Funding opportunities: – Friends/family – Publishers – Angel investors/venture capital/private equity – Government bodies – Crowd-funding (?) 11
  13. 13. osborneclarke.comTip #5: how to fund your games (Part 2)• Other options: • Optimise your tax structure (e.g. heard of EIS relief?) • Funding from the games industry itself • Developer collectives 12
  14. 14. osborneclarke.comThanks very much Jas Purewal Lawyer Interactive Entertainment T +44 (0) 207 105 7268 Jas.Purewal@osborneclarke.com Twitter: @gamerlaw 13
  15. 15. Questions?