Startup and video game law, from a Canadian and U.S. perspective
Video Game Studio Intellectual Property Strategy
Recently we’ve seen an uptick in interest among video game studios looking to protect their intellectual property, with a focus on protecting characters and game/studio names.
Here is a list of priorities that should be considered when determining or developing a video game studio’s intellectual property strategy (in common order of priority).
1. Trademark protection for the game name and/or logo
With a successful game comes the risk that a competitor may produce a similar game and brand it with similar game title and/or logo. Obtaining trademark protection of a game title and/or logo ensures your right to stop competitors from using the goodwill and reputation associated with your game title and/or logo.
2. Copyright protection for game characters
Obtaining copyright registrations is best suited for protecting the main character or characters of a game and can be used to stop unauthorized or unlicensed use of the character(s) on things such as t-shirts, plush animals, bobble head toys, clothing, hats, cups and mugs, etc.
3. Trademark protection for a studio name and/or logo
Finally, the studio should protect the goodwill and reputation associated with a studio name and/or logo through trademark registrations.
While a studio may not have financial resources to pursue all of the above at the start of development, it’s critical for the studio to at least develop an intellectual property portfolio strategy and plan to execute over time as resources permit.