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GameStartUp101: Legal: IP Protection


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This is one of presentations from the 2009-2010 Game Industry Start Up Workshop Series. The first workshop topic was "How to Form and Protect Your Business" and it took place on 9/15/09.

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GameStartUp101: Legal: IP Protection

  1. 1. Workshop Sponsored by:<br />Game Industry Start Up 101<br />Workshop #1: LegalIP Protection<br /><br />Twitter@WINetwork<br />
  2. 2. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY BASICS FOR GAME INDUSTRY START-UPS<br />William Rava<br />Perkins<br />206.359.6338<br />Twitter @willrava<br />16934008<br />
  3. 3. AGENDA<br />Why IP?<br />What is IP?<br />How do I get IP?<br />
  4. 4. WHY IP?<br />Prevent competitors from adopting your technology without your permission<br />Facilitate business deals<br />Get access to another company&apos;s technology<br />
  5. 5. WHY IP?<br />Increase company valuation at financing or acquisition (and may be the only valuable asset at dissolution)<br />License, for additional revenue streams<br />Credibility and marketability to your company<br />
  6. 6. WHAT IS IP?<br />User interface<br />Game play<br />Plot, characters<br />Music<br />Name<br />Code<br />Packaging<br />A-V aspects of game<br />And more . . . <br />
  7. 7. WHAT IS IP?<br />Trademarks(= source identifiers)<br />Patents(= new ideas that have utility)<br />Copyrights(= original works of authorship)<br />Trade Secrets(= valuable secret information)<br />Other (= web, domains, contracts, etc.)<br />
  8. 8. HOW?<br />TRADEMARKS:<br />Consider pre-clearing a mark before use<br />Use of a mark in commerce establishes certain rights in the mark in the geography of use<br />Trademark applications<br />Cheaper than patents by an order of magnitude<br />Approx $1.5k for each trademark<br />Establish policies for trademark use and police your marks on the web<br />
  9. 9. HOW?<br />TRADEMARKS:<br />Frosty Treats v. Sony, 426 F.3d 1001 (8th Cir. 2005)<br />
  10. 10. HOW?<br />TRADEMARKS:<br />Romantics v. Activision Pub., Inc., 574 F. Supp. 2d 758 (E.D. Mich. 2008)<br />
  11. 11. HOW?<br />PATENTS:<br />You have one year after a public disclosure, use, or sale in which to file a patent application in the US (foreign rights may be lost, however)<br />Consider provisional patent application<br />Often less than $2k <br />Must be converted to regular application within 1 year<br />
  12. 12. HOW?<br />COPYRIGHTS:<br />Mark all works with symbol ©, year of first publication and legal owner<br />Archive all versions of works<br />Consider registration of key works ($35 per application; check out<br />
  13. 13. Microstar v. Formgen, Inc., 942 F. Supp. 1312 (S.D. Cal. 1996)<br />HOW?<br />COPYRIGHTS:<br />
  14. 14. HOW?<br />COPYRIGHTS:<br />Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. v. Nintendo of America Inc., 964 F.2d 965 (9th Cir. 1992)<br />
  15. 15. HOW?<br />TRADE SECRETS:<br />Control access and disclosure of financial data, lists, formulas<br />Consider NDAs, confidentiality agreements and other contracts to protect valuable information<br />
  16. 16. HOW?<br />OTHER:<br />Domains: track renewal dates; register defensively<br />Contracts: consider IP impact in all contracts<br />Employees: assignments of IP and non-compete agreements<br />Web: use legal notices and appropriate EULAs/TOUs<br />
  17. 17. HOW?<br />EULA:<br />MDY Indus., LLC v. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., 2009 WL 223631 (D. Ariz. Jan 28, 2009)<br />Hernandez v. Internet Gaming Entertainment, Case No. 07-21403-Civ-Cohn/Snow (S.D. Fla.)<br />
  18. 18. HOW?<br />FOREIGN PROTECTION:<br />Patent and trademark rights only extend to the country in which they are issued or registered <br />Foreign protection is expensive<br />Pick your foreign IP markets carefully<br />
  19. 19. SUGGESTIONS<br />Strategize with your IP attorney now!<br />Accurately identify and strategically manage your IP assets. <br />Even if you don&apos;t intend to pursue formal protection now, put a plan in place for the future. <br />Make decisions today that minimize expense but still preserve the right to pursue broad IP protection in the future.<br />
  20. 20. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY BASICS FOR GAME INDUSTRY START-UPS<br />William Rava<br />Perkins<br />206.359.6338<br />Twitter @willrava<br />16934008<br />