Some games are software-based while others have been created through the Internet of Things, combining classic games with new technologies and creating an exciting user experience. However, intellectual property rights play an important role in gaming products creation.
Here are some common cases concerning the protection of intellectual property and the guarantee that third-party IP rights are also not violated.
Swedish gambling regulatory framework
The customer managed to develop a creative game, going to be released soon. The software has already been created in some cases while in other ones a master sketch is defined and the campaign is launched based on «Kickstarter», but the prototypes are still being produced. In most cases we meet the situation, when the idea was declassified and shared with the third parties anyway. Therefore, the customer is striving to find out, whether there is any way available to protect own creation?
- Artistic design, screens, user interfaces, characters, appearance and impression. Copyright is the cheapest way to get at least some game protection level. The game’s artistic characteristics (including scenario, characters, design, images and screens) and soft code can be protected by simple copyright registration, which can be produced quickly and financial costs-free way.
Advantage: a single copyright registration provides the international protection in most countries of the world, which is much beneficially for international market-focused games.
Disadvantage: specifications can’t be protected by copyright. Therefore, a patent may be required.
- Technological aspects. Patents: there are some things, which are not subject to patenting in the gaming world. Therefore, the goal is to find out the ways, which will contribute the game to become better and more exciting, as well as the most «boring users» to be delighted with such improvements. Such kind of «test for bores» encourages customers to think about the way to encourage to play the game even those, who are not gaming fans. Whether there is any potential technology use beyond the current game?
This will help to determine, if something is patentable and whether it deserves a patent (if it has some economic value for potential licensees, competitors, or future company’s buyers). The patenting should be a well thought out decision since the patents are expensive and time consuming.
IP rights proof
IP rights proof is a key point for gaming companies. However, it’s required to take into account lots of aspects, therefore the company can turn out to be quite expensive.
This is the most obvious gamers’ need. It’s required to provide the right confirmation proof, if the game uses characters or a script from a book or movie. It’s not so much complicated to get the appropriate right as it may seem first: the original intellectual property rights’ owners will be glad to provide the license to use for games on reasonable terms-basis, if the game quality is high enough.
It’s required to make sure, the name hasn’t been previously registered or used by another company, while choosing it. The best way to get such information is to search for a national trademark office, as well as to google it for local users. Unfortunately, it’s not enough just to check if the domain is busy. Choosing the right new name from the very beginning contributes to avoid multiple issues in future.
Patents and designs
Here some tricks may occur since thorough search, which provides the best result, requires an agent for intellectual property rights, which is quite complicated to fulfill at the initial stages. It really makes sense to check, what is protected in the current area, if the game was created on other companies’ software or hardware basis. Rather often there is a chance to learn about the patent rights from these rights holders upon the development completion. Be sure to note, the patent confirmation must match the company’s own patent strategy: to provide the patents availability for the mutual exchange of licenses or negotiations on this matter.
Gaming companies and users are already being engaged in new technologies implementation. Intellectual property right can provide legal structural elements to a new exciting experience.
Sports Betting and Intellectual Property
US Supreme Court decided to cancel the federal sports betting ban on May 14, 2018. The current solution allows the states to offer legal sports betting in accordance with state laws, which are currently at the development stage. The New Jersey, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia states express own wish to immediately start with the sports betting proposal. Professional leagues are also trying to join the current action. They are going to use intellectual property rights to achieve the success.
Professional sports leagues have attempted to start lobbying for 1% of the integrity fee from all bets, made in their respective leagues, while intending to get their tidbit of sports betting. The current integrity charge is intended for the licensed professional league statistics use in gambling. Professional sports leagues claim, they own intellectual property rights to these statistics, therefore, they are going to receive a license fee for using the statistics, mentioned above. «..NBA will spend about $7.5 billion on content development and game creation in 2019, according to Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner. The idea we should get a fee of 1%, due to being the intellectual property object creators, seems to me quite fair.
However, lack of fundamental intellectual property rights in statistics, which belong to such leagues like NBA, as they claim, is an obstacle to the integrity charges implementation. I.e. professional sports leagues own intellectual property rights to their content, including multimedia, design, logos, trademarks, etc. All this would require a license for legal use. However, sports betting organizations would use just those statistics, that are the sports game’s results. Unfortunately two federal court cases, concerning the sports statistics ownership, were not resolved in favor for professional sports leagues. The first of them (NBA vs. Motorola) concerned the fact that the NBA does not own the intellectual property rights to the live-broadcast of game statistics, which is calculated and compiled by third parties.
There was made a decision in the second case (C.B.C. Distribution vs. MLB Advanced Media), on the eighth round of appeals, that the statistics, obtained from professional baseball games and used by a third party for the interactive online fantasy gaming constitute «a form of expression in connection with substantial constitutional protection». Both these cases were striving to take away the ownership rights from professional sports leagues for the live broadcast of the statistics, received from their games, by making joint efforts.
In general, professional sports leagues were striving to earn extra money on legalized sports gambling. The intellectual property lever related to the statistics use, created on their games basis, is not subject to their disposal despite the fact that they may well settle in the sports betting management, supervision or support field.
This is one more example of the fact, that the intellectual property rights misinterpretation may result in a false understanding by the company of the profit ownership. It may also be misleading for new businesses, having convinced there is the legal liability risk, which in fact may be absent.