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The legal protection of video games

  • 14 July 2016
  • Articles

The growing and constantly developing new technologies and different platforms that make for an easier and faster access to videogames of any kind, have resulted in the ongoing increase of companies that focus on videogame development.

These companies inevitably must face the question of how to protect their developments and avoid becoming victims of plagiarism or falsification of their product.

Unfortunately there is no specific category of intellectual property protection that refers to “videogames”. However within the broad spectrum of intellectual property rights there are very useful tools to achieve an effective protection in this area.

The question lies on identifying how to proceed in order to have an adequate protection. To do this we must understand that a videogame as a final product is the sum of many separate intellectual developments, which are individually protectable through separate intellectual property rights.

A game includes, among other things, software, videos, sounds, images, characters, trademarks and scripts. Each of these elements can be protected by Intellectual Property Law.

The software is perhaps the most important element in a videogame, since this whole game content is mounted on the game code lines. In Colombia and the European system protection software it is subject to the rules on copyright.

As for audiovisual content, i.e. the soundtrack and videos used in the game; they are also subject to the rules of copyright. The videogame producers must document and gain those rights through assignment contracts signed by the authors of the various works. The same applies to the script or the story of the game. It should be clear who owns the copyrights over the script created for the final product.

In cases where games include real characters in their plot, protection licensing should be carried out through negotiations on image rights followed by the respective contracts.

Clearly videogames also include distinctive signs such as word marks, figurative marks, three-dimensional marks, motion and even sound to marks, among others. All these signs may be trademark registrations that will guarantee their owner the exclusivity of use and commercial exploitation.

In conclusion, by protecting each element of the game the developers achieve an effective protection of their final product.

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The legal protection of video gamesThe legal protection of video games