Licensing and IP Issues for Mobile and Social Game Developers

​Copyright group chair Jennifer Stanley and litigator Jennifer Kelly were quoted by IP Strategy on the intellectual property issues that most often arise for game developers.

When developers are negotiating their IP rights with game publishers, Stanley said, “It’s usually ok to grant the publisher long-term rights to the developer’s tools and technology for a particular project on which the developer worked.”

“But when a publisher asks for rights to the developer’s tools and tech for a sequel, it’s a ‘tough ask’ for a small developer unless it’s a royalty-bearing license,” she added. “Anything that can be reusable—this is where the developer needs to be very careful.”

And when a developer has created a game with qualities that really stand out as unique, Stanley said, they might also “negotiate a small percentage” of any ancillary revenues, such as merchandising related to the game.

Kelly talked about the issues she sees in game IP litigation—issues that developers may want to anticipate and avoid. In general, a judge will “pick apart” a game to ascertain what its unoriginal and unprotectable elements may be, she said, and “many clients do not want to test the line.”

She helps clients reduce the potential infringement risks in game development through various “front-end” approaches. For example, if a client is worried that their game is too much like another on the market, Kelly investigates the developer’s creative process and inspiration. With the resulting insights, she can guide her clients on making better decisions for their business.

The full article is available through the IP Strategy website.


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