The gaming world is huge. There are thousands of gaming ideas that are in the process of development at any given time. It is a highly competitive market. So how can entrepreneurs make sure competitors cannot steal their ideas? Whether a solo entrepreneur or a massive business, the protection available is often the same: a copyright.
How do copyrights protect gaming ideas?
A copyright provides protection for the actual expression of the idea. Video Game Design, a group that helps game designers build their skills, provides a great example of how this works. Basically, if you develop a tic-tac-toe game and use letters, like “x” and “o”, the copyright can protect that expression. If, however, another gamer did a similar game using something else, like cars and planes to represent the letters, the copyright may not apply. This shows us that the copyright is one portion of intellectual property protection. Gamers are wise to consider others like patents, to better ensure full protection.
Those who use copyrights as part of their intellectual property protection portfolio need to register the copyright with the United States Copyright Office.
Does this actually work?
Yes. In fact, the power of copyrights was recently highlighted in a case that spanned the globe. The case involves gaming giant Nintendo and a smaller developer. Nintendo brought forward a lawsuit against the Japanese developer stating they were using their technology which allowed for a user to operate a joystick over a touch panel.
As the case took longer and longer to resolve, the gaming giant increased their damage request by another $5 million. Shortly after words, the developer decided to settle the allegations. In an official statement, the developer noted that they were confident their game did not constitute infringement but that they wanted to move forward. As such, they settled the matter to resolve the issue “as soon as possible.”
As part of the terms of the settlement agreement, the developer will pay Nintendo $30 million.