Legal services for technology-based companies                        LEGAL CHECK LIST FOR INDIE GAME DEVELOPERS-     Busin...
Legal services for technology-based companies-     Trademarks          o What can be protected?                   Game ti...
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Legal check list for game developers

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This handout is meant to provide basic legal considerations for indie video game companies. It should not be considered legal advice.

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Legal check list for game developers

  1. 1. Legal services for technology-based companies LEGAL CHECK LIST FOR INDIE GAME DEVELOPERS- Business entity o LLC or similar to protect against personal liability o Operating agreement if more than just one developer in LLC- Trademarks o Identify key trademarks for game title(s) and business name o File registration applications with USPTO- Copyrights o Identify key copyrights o File registration applications with USPTO- Patents o Identify key technology o File registration applications with USPTO- Licensing & Agreements o Review outstanding licenses & agreements o Develop tracking system for previous & future licenses & agreements o Determine assignability for future sales, transfers, etc. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY BASICS- Licensing o What are potential issues?  Third party licensing  End user license agreements (“EULA”)  Open source licensing- Copyrights o What can be protected?  Audiovisual – visual and aural display of the game, character(s)  Literary works – the code o What are potential ancillary issues?  Copyright ownership  Works made for hire – independent contractor owns the copyright o Also might come into play when users are encouraged to modify existing content  Employee – company owns copyright o But, was work done before you formally created your business entity? o How do you protect?  Common law – put pen to paper and you get certain rights  Register with US Copyright Office – $35 fee per registration + sample of work o What should you do regardless?  Put “Copyright (or ©) [first year of publication], [owner]” next to any copyrightable content _____________________________________________________________________________________ Ascentage Law, PLLC One Broadway, 14th Floor, Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02142 USA TEL: +1.617.475.1603 www.ascentagelaw.com FAX: +1.617.401.3706
  2. 2. Legal services for technology-based companies- Trademarks o What can be protected?  Game title(s) & logo(s)  Name & logo of company  Certain items in the game – creative tools, characters, product packaging o What are potential ancillary issues?  Using others’ trademarks in your game without their permission (i.e. product placement) o How do you protect?  Common law  Use mark in commerce  Only get limited geographic protection  Register with US  Use the mark in commerce on specific goods/services + USPTO fee ~$300 per class o May also file intent to use application if plan to use in next 3 years o What should you do regardless?  Put “TM” next to any game title, business name, main character name, etc.  DO NOT PUT ® unless you have registered, can lead to fines- Trade secrets o What can be protected?  Software source code  Customer data  Future product plans & designs o How do you protect?  Develop written trade secret policy & keep processes/methods secret amongst employees  Strong EULA- Patents o What can be protected?  Utility patents  Processes – methods of interaction between user and game – think Guitar Hero o Example – http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2315/its_just_a_game_right_top_.php  Manufacture – software, but not necessarily data structures and computer programs  Machines  Design patents – characters o How do you protect?  Utility patents – useful, novel, and non-obviousness – must have not been more than a year since revealed  Design patents – ornamental appearance The information above is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Because each individual’s situation is unique, please consult an attorney. _____________________________________________________________________________________ Ascentage Law, PLLC One Broadway, 14th Floor, Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02142 USA TEL: +1.617.475.1603 www.ascentagelaw.com FAX: +1.617.401.3706

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