The gaming industry is among the fastest growing industries.
Gamers today have many options, from card games and board games to
gesture recognition and multiplayer online games. Game developers
and promoters however often find themselves wanting for options to
protect their business interests in the game. In a nutshell, game
developers and promoters wish to prevent the games developed and/or
promoted by them from being copied by their competitors. While the
legal framework may not provide any provisions to prevent all the
aspects of a game from being copied, a well defined intellectual
property protection strategy can protect business interests of game
developers and promoters to a large extent.
Several aspects as a gaming business can be protected under
trademark law. One of the advantages of trademark registration is
that the registration can exist indefinitely. Some of the aspects
of a gaming business that can be registered as trademark are listed
Name of the game, ex: ALCHEMY and PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES
A tag line associated with the game or the gaming company, ex:
"Live in your world, play in ours" a tagline adopted by
Logo of a game, ex: PlayStation logo designed by Manabu
Sakamoto for Sony
A distinctive package in which the gaming material is enclosed
Characters in a game
Protecting the above aspects of a gaming business under the
trademark law can go a long way in preventing competitors from
passing off their offerings as those of the original
creators/promoters of the game.
Copyright is exclusive legal rights granted to a creator of an
original work. Copyright can protect artistic works,
cinematographic films, musical works, literary works, dramatic
works, sound recordings, as well as computer software. A common
misconception is that copyright can protect rules of playing a
game. However, in reality, copyright cannot protect rules of
playing a game. For instance, the rules of a game may be expressed
in a gaming manual. A person who makes copies of the manual without
authority may violate your copyright. However, a person who follows
the rules of the game and plays the game, even without your express
authorization, will not be violating your copyright. While
copyright law may not enable you to prevent others from following
the rules of the game you might have created, the law can protect
several aspects of the gaming business. Some of the aspects of a
gaming business that can be protected under copyright law are
Source codes and object codes of digital games, such as video
User manual of the game
Characters in a game
Background music in a game
Other multimedia content in the game
Other artistic content associated with the game
A utility patent can protect aspects of a game related to
science and technology. A product or a process which is novel and
non-obvious can be protected under patent law. Some of the aspects
of a game that can be protected under patent law are listed
Article such as baseball bats and playing boards, among other
Hardware digital products such as joysticks used in video
Software innovations in digital games
Technical processes of enabling games, such as technical
processes that enable real time multiplayer games
While a utility patent protects functional aspects of a product,
a design patent on the other hand protects ornamental design
(aesthetics) of a functional item. Some of the aspects of a game
that can be protected under design patent law are listed below.
Appearance of a playing board
Appearance of articles used in a game, such as toy bikes
Icons (computer icons) present in the game
Existing laws may not enable original game developers and
promoters to prevent competitors from adopting the rules of the
original game. However, a carefully designed intellectual property
protection strategy can protect various aspects of a gaming
business as discussed above. Such a strategy can dilute the appeal
of a counterfeit game or an inspired game to gamers, thereby
substantially limiting their success and giving original game
developers and promoters a competitive edge in the market.
I hope you find this article helpful.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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