Priority actions to protect your IP in Computer Games

Alastair Smith, a Senior Associate in our Corporate and Technology Group

Alastair Smith is a Senior Associate in Lindsays’ Corporate and Technology Group. He regularly works with start-ups, scaling and venture capital backed companies in the software, cloud, fintech, video gaming and life sciences sectors.

Here are Alastair’s key tips on what you can do to protect your IP:

1. Always make sure you understand what your IP is and who owns it

IP is something unique that you create (an idea alone is not IP). Examples in the video gaming sector of IP includes soundtrack, voiceover, sound effects, animation, art and motion capture footage right through to the game’s underlying software engine

Ensuring you know who owns any IP, how that is licenced or owned and how the IP owner (where that is not you) is rewarded will help avoid time consuming and potentially costly disputes.

Get contracts for IP in place early on in the process, particularly if you are working with someone you don’t employ (i.e. 3rd party consultants, friends or family).

Taking advice early on IP contracts required - usually saves pain later.

2. Know everything about your IP

It’s important to keep detailed records of what you are using in any video game (be that code, art, sounds etc). Ask who created it and when and what right you have to use it!

Having comprehensive information on all your IP (ownership or licence of) is vital when you come to attracting investors and potential buyers. Such parties will not want to have disputed title over IP in a video game.

3. Keep ideas confidential and products protected - get agreements and licences in place

Ask for Confidentiality Agreements/NDAs to protect your IP where you are discussing it or sharing it with a 3rd party – these are normal, accepted and expected. Lindsays can help you with this simple step to prevent your IP being misused.

You cannot do everything for your game. Licences are inevitable way of drawing in IP. It is vital to understand the difference between exclusive and non-exclusive licences of IP and what that might mean. Also consider the scope of use or restrictions on licences you have incoming.

If you are onward licencing IP for another party to use in their game (for instance) then it is important to understand what you are doing and if you can use the IP going forward yourself - if you give it away on terms you don’t understand, you won’t get it back!