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Cgr

Copyrights and such.

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When you start developing a computer game, as a hobby with the potential of becoming commercialized, what legal procedures do you take? I'd like the least expensive (or even free) route, if possible. Additional questions: -How do you go about reserving the NAME of your game, so you can list it publicly, other people don't decide to use the game's NAME. -Is all your work automatically copyrighted upon creation? -When your developing your game, should you list the ownership as your name, or a company name? -Can you reserve a company name? Does this cost money? -Anything else I should be aware of? Any legal/setup resources worth checking out before trying the independent game developing business? Thanks a lot!

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  1. I could be wrong about this, but I think you need to get a trademark for this.

  2. Yes, automatically upon creation.

  3. I can get a DBA for five dollars down at the county. I'm not sure how much it will cost you where you live, but it will probably be in the area of $5-$20.

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Quote:
-How do you go about reserving the NAME of your game, so you can list it publicly, other people don't decide to use the game's NAME.


That would be a trademark.

Quote:
-Is all your work automatically copyrighted upon creation?


Yes, thanks to the Berne Convention works are protected at creation in all but a few countries in Africa and the Middle East. In some countries you may have to register in order to be able to be eligible to recover certain types of damages (such as punitive damages), should your work be infringed.

Quote:
-When your developing your game, should you list the ownership as your name, or a company name?


Only corporations are considered separate legal entities from their owner and able to own property. In order to assign the copyright to your company I thing you would have to become incorporated.

Quote:
Can you reserve a company name? Does this cost money?


Yes, you can trademark your company name. Depends on your country but in the U.S any way there is a fee. I believe it's $75.00 USD.


Quote:
-Anything else I should be aware of? Any legal/setup resources worth checking out before trying the independent game developing business?


Consult a lawyer, they'll be able to better advise you especially when it comes to the trademark process.

disclaimer:
IANAL
I am only going on my rather limited knowledge of IP and business law as it applies in the United States.

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AFAIK there's two kinds of trademarks: regular ones (TM), and registered ones (R).

You can go ahead and slap a (tm) on your game's name without paying or informing anyone, but if you want to put an (r) on it, you've got to get yourself registered which costs money.

With a regular TM-style trade-mark, you can stop other people from using the name as long as you can prove that: you used it first, they're using it for a similar purpose (e.g. as a video game name), and that your use of the name was wide-spread enough that they should have known about it.

In other words, you can (TM) something, but if you only sell 100 copies of the (TM)'ed product, and then someone like EA goes and sells 100,000 copies of a new product with the same name, they can steal the name because "Average Joe" is more likely to associate the (TM) with EA's game than with your game.
To stop them from stealing the name you have to (R) it.

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