The 5 major legal challenges game developers face

So what are these five major areas that game and software devs should be concerned with?I find that many game developers are unaware of the legal landscape that they are wading into when they begin creating their game. I certainly had no idea when I was an animator for a computer game company over a decade ago. However, getting an overview of what laws apply and what legal protection is necessary can give any developer a leg up throughout the process.

So what are these five major areas that game and software devs should be concerned with? Here goes…

Forming a business entity:

Forming a business separate from yourself can provide huge benefits, both when things go right and when things go wrong. A business can take advantage of certain tax benefits, like accrual accounting, that can help save money particularly when raising money on Kickstarter. When things go wrong, a business entity can help to shield the business owner from personal liability from those who may have a legal claim against the business.

Owning the rights to the product and other contract issues:

Contracts make the game development world go ‘round.Contracts make the game development world go ‘round. When creating a game or software application, there are often multiple people working together to finish the project. Ensuring that the business or developer actually owns all of this work product is crucial to continuing monetization of the game or app. Additionally, licensing agreements can help create a continuing revenue stream that can build the business even bigger using existing IP.

Protecting the intellectual property:

Intellectual property is a valuable asset for any business, particularly in game and software development. Trademarks protect the company name and brands, which copyright protects that actual work from illegal duplication. In addition, patents and trade secrets can play a huge part in the developer’s IP strategy. Knowing how to protect these assets and avoid infringing on others’ IP can save lots of time and money in the long run.


Staying compliant with the law:

U.S. state and federal law intersects with game development more often than many would think.U.S. state and federal law intersects with game development more often than many would think. Privacy law is a big one, particularly for those who market their game or app to children. Additionally, it is easy to run afoul of state governments when running a contest or sweepstakes if the developer isn’t careful.

Raise money legally:

Raising capital for a business often invokes federal and state securities laws, which can be difficult and complex to both understand and comply with. Alternatively, using Kickstarter or another type of donation-based crowdfunding platform brings with it liability and other issues that need to be understood and addressed by developers.

I cover these five areas in my free eBook, available by signing up here (or on the Amazon Kindle store for just $2.99). In the meantime, if you are looking to start development on a video game, board game or any other mobile app or software project, contact an attorney for a free consultation.

photo credit: garryknight and Jeremy Brooks via photopin cc

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Zachary Strebeck

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