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Ownership of Intellectual Property

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I'm coming up with a policy and what could be a small agreement that employees may be required to sign somehow. As per the title, it's about ownership. I want to keep it short as it's more there to explain than it is to rule. For now it is the only part of any agreement I am thinking of having. Any thoughts, suggestions? 1. Project Ownership: When a game project is proposed by a team member or employee of the company, whether for the first time or the nth time, the company decides if this project is something they want to carry out. Approval of the project then renders the game and all intellectual property to be owned by the company. Ideas may fall back to the originator under any of the following circumstances: 1.1. The project is denied. The originator need not request for the Intellectual Properties regarding the project back in this case. The company does not hold the IP at all for the project at any point. 1.2. The project has been shelved or has become inactive for 2 years. The originator must request that the Intellectual properties for the project to be returned. Should the originator not request the IP, ownership stays with the company. If the originator does ask for the IP for the project back, the company cannot refuse and must hand over the IP. Ownership is retained by the company when a project is active. Ownership is also retained by the company if the project is inactive for less than 2 years. The originator may request the IP back during this time but the company is allowed to deny the request. ----------- Inactivity for X years. I can change this as suggestions come in, it's just a number I came up with, I haven't looked into what a good wait time should be just yet.

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Well, the most immediate thing that comes to mind is sequals and derivitive works. Does the company have to keep cranking out sequels every 2 years to maintain ownership? What about spin-offs and other derivitive works? Does the company hold the right to make them without sending the spin off through the process on its own? Does a spin off count when the company denies to release the rights because, although the original is 3 years old, a spin off was produced last year.

What effect does the IP coming to completion have on the terms of the agreement? Once a game based on the IP is published is the IP permanantly the property of the company?

What if the company goes belly-up and what impact does that have on the employee's rights as outlined in the agreement? Keeping in mind that when most studios go belly up, they often sell off their more marketable IP.

What is the employee's involvement when IP is transfered to another entity (ie, the company is bought by a larger company or the IP is sold)?

---

These are just some things off the top of my head, and I am not a lawyer, but it seems like you have a lot more to consider.

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This is what you need to do:


1> Call a random sampling of business lawyers in your area and ask for prices and bios.
2> Pick one who is inexpensive and you think you will like.
3> Arrange a meeting, and ask him to email you several boilerplate IP assignment agreements to talk about at the meeting.
4> Meet and disucuss.
5> Pay lawyer around $100-$150 for the hour consultation, and thank him for his time.


A non-lawyer trying to write valid business contracts and agreements is a sign of ignorance and/or imbicility.

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Quote:
Original post by trapdoor
1. Project Ownership:
When a game project is proposed by a team member or employee of the company, whether for the first time or the nth time, the company decides if this project is something they want to carry out. Approval of the project then renders the game and all intellectual property to be owned by the company. Ideas may fall back to the originator under any of the following circumstances:

1.1. The project is denied. The originator need not request for the Intellectual Properties regarding the project back in this case. The company does not hold the IP at all for the project at any point.
1.2. The project has been shelved or has become inactive for 2 years. The originator must request that the Intellectual properties for the project to be returned. Should the originator not request the IP, ownership stays with the company. If the originator does ask for the IP for the project back, the company cannot refuse and must hand over the IP.

Ownership is retained by the company when a project is active. Ownership is also retained by the company if the project is inactive for less than 2 years. The originator may request the IP back during this time but the company is allowed to deny the request.

Should you seek to secure IP rights for games you make? - Yes.
Should you do it by writing a meaningless jumble of words that don't do what you want them to? No.
Should you consult a lawyer? Yes.

Trying to save money by not using a lawyer will cost you a lot more money in the long run. Pay for a lawyer to draft your contract. If you can't afford a lawyer then don't bother (this will have the same effect as your meaningless self made contract). But be aware that if you don't get a proper agreement that you aren't protected - as soon as you have the money get a lawyer.

[Edited by - Obscure on January 27, 2007 6:06:38 AM]

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