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Protecting Intellectual Property when working with others

10-23-2009, 02:39 PM
#1
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Georgia
Posts: 314
Protecting Intellectual Property when working with others

Hello everyone,
I am a game designer in the more traditional table-top game category but have recently developed a new game that we believe could be a huge hit as an iPhone (and other electronic platform) game. However, I have very little experience as a programmer and am therefore seeking partnerships to help bring the game from the table-top into the digital realm. The table-top game is still in development and we'd like to get something started for iPhone development along a somewhat parallel track.

Here's the dilemma. Our game is incredibly unique and something no one's ever done before. So in seeking out partnerships with iPhone developers, we need to be sure we're covering all our bases as far as protecting our intellectual property goes and making sure someone doesn't come along interested in developing our game for the iPhone only to run off with our ideas and create a game of their own, essentially stealing our game right out from under us.

Do any of you have experience with this type of situation and have any advice to offer? The idea is so clever and unique there is a genuine concern among myself and my existing partners that someone could steal our game and leave us high and dry.

Any help or advice would be genuinely appreciated. Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,
Q
10-23-2009, 02:50 PM
#2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quorlan View Post
Hello everyone,
I am a game designer in the more traditional table-top game category but have recently developed a new game that we believe could be a huge hit as an iPhone (and other electronic platform) game. However, I have very little experience as a programmer and am therefore seeking partnerships to help bring the game from the table-top into the digital realm. The table-top game is still in development and we'd like to get something started for iPhone development along a somewhat parallel track.

Here's the dilemma. Our game is incredibly unique and something no one's ever done before. So in seeking out partnerships with iPhone developers, we need to be sure we're covering all our bases as far as protecting our intellectual property goes and making sure someone doesn't come along interested in developing our game for the iPhone only to run off with our ideas and create a game of their own, essentially stealing our game right out from under us.

Do any of you have experience with this type of situation and have any advice to offer? The idea is so clever and unique there is a genuine concern among myself and my existing partners that someone could steal our game and leave us high and dry.

Any help or advice would be genuinely appreciated. Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,
Q
My advice: get a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property and have them draft a contract that protects you. There's really no way around hiring a lawyer in this kind of situation, unfortunately.

Last edited by squarezero; 10-23-2009 at 03:09 PM.

10-23-2009, 02:50 PM
#3
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 1,680
Send a message via AIM to dogmeat
contracts, contracts, contracts.

Sign a non-disclosure agreement with your dev before you mention any portion of your design specs.

Artist | Designer
@PixelDogmeat
10-23-2009, 03:04 PM
#4
I can give you the name of the IP lawyer that I use, he's an extremely nice guy.
I used to ride the train with him to work every day when I commuted to Boston.
He's been extremely reasonable for a lawyer also.
10-23-2009, 03:14 PM
#5
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 303
I'm a lawyer and I agree with Dogmeat - you need to get all parties to sign an NDA. It needn't be a costly thing to do (no I'm not touting for business) and you may even be able to draft one yourself. I guess you know that you can't copyright a game idea so that's not an option. My advice is, try to deal with people that you think you can trust (referrals from friends etc) & then make them sign an NDA anyway.
10-23-2009, 04:22 PM
#6
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Georgia
Posts: 314
Thanks!

Thanks so much to all of you who have responded, I really appreciate the advice. I do already have an NDA drawn up. It's pretty standard stuff. I work in the marketing world and we are always having to sign or have singed NDAs so a basic one was pretty easy to get my hands on and our company lawyers claim that it covers things pretty well.

So far, I've talked to a handful of potential developers but haven't disclosed any of the details that make the game so unique and original to any of them yet. The next step, assuming any of them are interested in taking on the development side of this, is to get the NDA signed and start getting into more detail.

One more question, does the NDA have to be witnessed and notarized to make it all legal and binding?

Finally, I haven't actually found a developer yet, though I am talking to a few. But if any of you are interested potentially working on this project, I'd be happy to talk about it. The game really is something unique that has never been done. It falls into the turn-based strategy genre and it heavily borrows elements from trading card games and role playing games with some board game-like parts as well. Frankly those of us who have been creating the table-top version of the game can't believe no one has come up with this concept before. Admittedly we're slightly biased but this could be a game changer like Magic: The Gathering was back when it was first introduced. Literally a new genre creator.

Anyway, thanks again for all the advice, I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

Sincerely,
Q
10-23-2009, 06:21 PM
#7
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 977
Send a message via MSN to MindJuice Send a message via Skype™ to MindJuice
Hi Quorlan,

I thought this link might interest you. Several posts about NDAs and notarization:
http://www.linkedin.com/answers/law-...ry=LAW_COR_CON
10-23-2009, 06:35 PM
#8
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 1,680
Send a message via AIM to dogmeat
notarizing would definitely not hurt. besides, it only costs 10$

Artist | Designer
@PixelDogmeat
10-25-2009, 08:46 AM
#9
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 303
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quorlan View Post

One more question, does the NDA have to be witnessed and notarized to make it all legal and binding? Q
No, it just needs to be signed by both parties. A common wording is
"IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have executed this Agreement as of the date first above written." - followed by fields for parties'names, positions (if contracting with a company) & signatures.
10-25-2009, 06:29 PM
#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quorlan View Post
One more question, does the NDA have to be witnessed and notarized to make it all legal and binding?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pamx View Post
No, it just needs to be signed by both parties. A common wording is
"IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have executed this Agreement as of the date first above written." - followed by fields for parties'names, positions (if contracting with a company) & signatures.
Agree with Pamx. Generally, notarizing a document is used to verify and provide further assurance as to the identity of one or more signatories to the document, but would not affect the validity of that document's provisions. As an example, notarizing an NDA could help establish that Person A and Person B actually signed an NDA, but Person A could still claim that the notarized NDA should not be enforced in their jurisdiction because the NDA's contents are illegal. Check with a lawyer in your jurisdiction on everything above though, since the laws and rules may be different where you do business and this shouldn't be construed as legal advice.