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Vyle80r

Steps to trying to obtain the license to a game or buy the franchise?

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I recently played retro side scrolling shooter on the Genesis and fell in love with it. So I started to look to see what else may have been done with the game alike sequels or a modern remake. What I found was that nothing happened to the game after that and the developer filed for bankruptcy a long time back. Unfortunately,  that is where the road ends.

 

The company was a Japanese developer so I assume the bankruptcy was filed in Japan.

 

I can't find and info on what happened to the assets during or after the bankruptcy.

 

What should be my next move?

And, if I have to communicate with the Japanese, how would I go about something like that. I speak English.

 

I appreciate any help.

 

 

Thomas

 

 

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Step 1 is to have a bunch of money. Because either way you go with step 2 (there are two possible step 2s) is going to need money.

2a. Spend money on a Japanese lawyer to hunt down the owners of the IP. Once you find them, the rest is straightforward (and requires more money). This is the "pay for permission" method.

2b. Bad alternative: Just go ahead and make the game, and wait for the IP owner to come out of the woodwork and ask you to fork over money. This is the "pay for forgiveness" method, and it is highly risky and unadvisable.

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Well, that was straightforward and to the point. I appreciate that.

I assume the process is similar if, for example, I know who owns it and how to contact them? Would you grab a lawyer before making any type of contact?

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I assume the process is similar if, for example, I know who owns it and how to contact them? Would you grab a lawyer before making any type of contact?

If you already know who owns the rights, then it removes one step in a long list of steps. You still need to know what it will take for the transaction to complete.

As for how to contact them, once you've tracked them down, you call on the telephone for initial contact. (After initial contact much will happen through email, but real voice phone calls will still happen occasionally.) If you know they are in Japan you will need to make sure you can communicate on the phone.


And yes, I would absolutely be working with a lawyer if you are serious about obtaining rights. You need to know what rights to acquire. Imagine your situation if you go through all the steps yourself and only discover late in the process you have the wrong permissions and need to acquire different permissions, or even worse, learn that another company has the legal rights you need and they are unwilling to negotiate.

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And yes, I would absolutely be working with a lawyer if you are serious about obtaining rights. You need to know what rights to acquire. Imagine your situation if you go through all the steps yourself and only discover late in the process you have the wrong permissions and need to acquire different permissions, or even worse, learn that another company has the legal rights you need and they are unwilling to negotiate.


This just because a company owns the ip to a product doesn't mean they own the rights to all of it. Like Disney owns the rights to marvel but sony owns the rights to make spider man movies. This is why Disney is unable to have spider man in any of their new marvel movies.

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2b. Bad alternative: Just go ahead and make the game, and wait for the IP owner to come out of the woodwork and ask you to fork over money. This is the "pay for forgiveness" method, and it is highly risky and unadvisable.

 

That's assuming your title gets "big enough" to come to their attention AND that the copyright extended into the zones you will be publishing to. There's always a chance that this IP is only protected in Japan and not in other countries. Once again, you could find a lawyer that specializes in IPs to determine whether the IP is protected in the territory you intend to publish your game into and could just make a clone if it isn't. Legal, perhaps, ethical, I guess that's up to you to decide.

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