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Developing a high budget game (Need some legal advice)


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#1 tim00252   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:26 AM

Before I talk about anything further, let me explain some things. I've created serveral accounts on different sites asking for some advice linked to laws and paths to making a game company. I require some assistance in how to create a game company (In the UK), and how to copyright a game that is going to be developed. I have consulted with some lawyers but most are not familiar with the technicalities of making game oriented companies along with game copyright and trademarks. So I am asking for advice from people who have had experience in this field. Now before I get into questions here is something about what we are doing: First of all all the information on this account is fake and is subject to deletion at any time. Since the content which we have created is not copyright protected yet and it involves a project with a high budget (About 1 million USD) we would not like any information to be tracable back to us. This is not a joke of any sort, so please constructive responses only. 1. While being familiar with copyright laws in the UK, We would still apreciate any details and explanations of game related copyright issues which have apeared in the past, and in general how to copyright a game title and all of its contents. 2. How to setup a gaming company. What laws should we take into consideration, and what are the specific requierments and documentation to make a gaming company capable of publishing a big game title. Are there any problems that already existing gaming companies have encountered with their establishment and what were they.

 

3. While we already have a small core team working on the project, we are quite inexperienced with hiring people, besides the required programming skills and so on, what should we pay close attention to while hiring people. They will be needed to sign an NDA but is there any other neccesary paperwork we should look at.

 

We cannot disclose any other information but any help would be greatly apreciated. Once everything is completed we will most likely provide more information about what we are working on, untill then we think this information suffices. Thank you in advance


Edited by jbadams, 25 January 2013 - 07:08 AM.
Restored post contents from history.


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#2 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 30341

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 05:09 AM

1) Whenever an individual creates anything, it's automatically "copyrighted" (whether you they choose to identify it with a "© 2013" or not). If they're an individual then they're the owner, if they're a regular employee then their employer is usually the owner, and if they're a contractor then they might have to sign it over to the employer in that contract -- all of these depending on the country.

Copyright is a right that you have by default - you've got to sign it away to get rid of it.

 

Same goes for trade-marks -- if you trade something using a particular mark, then it's a trademark (whether you choose identify it with a "™" or not), and it's protected by trademark law. If you're an absolutely massive company that needs to remove all ambiguity about your ownership over a mark, then you can register it, which is the, quite rare, ® kind of trademark.

 

2) There's nothing special about games business to other business, really. Make sure your liability is limited and your books/taxes are all legit, as usual wink.png

If you want to publish your game via closed platforms, like game consoles, then you'll need to enter negotiations with those gatekeepers (Microsoft, Sony, etc) in becoming a licensed developer and buying dev-kits, in exchange for a large wad of cash. They'll likely want to see your bona-fides that prove you're capable of making the products they're accustomed to.

 

The usual disclaimer -- IANALTINLA.


Edited by Hodgman, 20 January 2013 - 05:10 AM.


#3 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 18536

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 05:34 AM

Check out the articles Dan Marchant provides on this page.  In particular you may be interested in:

Tom Sloper also provides some good articles.  Specifically:

 

 

I have consulted with some lawyers but most are not familiar with the technicalities of making game oriented companies along with game copyright and trademarks.

Try a lawyer from this listing, also provided by Dan Marchant.  All of them are experienced with the needs of game development and a number are located in the UK.  If you're developing a "high budget" game you should really speak to a properly qualified lawyer to be sure you're getting correct and proper advice that's specific to your local laws and your situation.

 

They will be needed to sign an NDA but is there any other neccesary paperwork we should look at.

You'll need some sort of employment contract which includes assignment of rights so that your business owns the works they create.  Your lawyer should be able to advise you as to the specific document you require to comply with your local laws and regulations.



#4 tim00252   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 05:34 AM

1) Whenever an individual creates anything, it's automatically "copyrighted" (whether you they choose to identify it with a "© 2013" or not). If they're an individual then they're the owner, if they're a regular employee then their employer is usually the owner, and if they're a contractor then they might have to sign it over to the employer in that contract -- all of these depending on the country.

Copyright is a right that you have by default - you've got to sign it away to get rid of it.

 

Same goes for trade-marks -- if you trade something using a particular mark, then it's a trademark (whether you choose identify it with a "™" or not), and it's protected by trademark law. If you're an absolutely massive company that needs to remove all ambiguity about your ownership over a mark, then you can register it, which is the, quite rare, ® kind of trademark.

 

2) There's nothing special about games business to other business, really. Make sure your liability is limited and your books/taxes are all legit, as usual wink.png

If you want to publish your game via closed platforms, like game consoles, then you'll need to enter negotiations with those gatekeepers (Microsoft, Sony, etc) in becoming a licensed developer and buying dev-kits, in exchange for a large wad of cash. They'll likely want to see your bona-fides that prove you're capable of making the products they're accustomed to.

 

The usual disclaimer -- IANALTINLA.

 

Should have mentioned that we are developing a MMORPG. Sadly that is all I can currently reveal, but thank you for the information.



#5 Katie   Members   -  Reputation: 1329

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:54 AM

High budget funding, but you don't know how to setup a company? You go to a company formation agent and buy one and rename it. 200 quid.

 

"They will be needed to sign an NDA but is there any other neccesary paperwork we should look at."

 

Um. Yeah. You're going to need an employment contract. And some HR policies. And you'll be wanting to get an employment lawyer to look at all this.

 

" I have consulted with some lawyers but most are not familiar with the technicalities of making game oriented companies along with game copyright and trademarks."

 

That's because you're thinking they're something special, but they're not. Just go find a proper business lawyer. Not a high street solicitor, an actual firm with a business group.

 

Are you really sure you're the right person to be handling this sort of thing? This is the noddy end of running a business and you're already resorting to asking internet forums. What's going to happen when you have to fire some of the staff and do it legally? Or work out what the implications are of ditching a publishing contract? Or the really complicated decisions like at what point in a dev cycle to start working on a second product...



#6 brain28   Members   -  Reputation: 105

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 11:04 AM

Tim since i am from Cyprus and we have the same law structure you need first to register your company. I would sugest you go for a Limited liability company with you the major share holder 51%. Then after that you can register the name of your game to your company. In my country we have a service in the "ministry of work" that allow us to register a trademark name to a specific person or company so nobody can have legal rights on yours.






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