Intangible assets often account for more than 80% of a company’s total value. A sound knowledge of intangible assets will provide you with a solid basis for discussions with a legal expert concerning your company. You will quickly come up with important questions and the consultation process will be more qualitative and effective.
The law relating to the games industry stems from the US entertainment industry, and agreements are similar to those in the movie world, being often both complex and comprehensive in nature. The contractual language is English.
When you work with major players, it can be a good idea to cross-check agreements and deals with an independent specialist lawyer, rather than trust the legal competence of a business partner.
At some stage in a company’s development, issues concerning infringement, disputes and legal processes will become relevant. To prevent such situations and manage them appropriately as and when they arise, as an entrepreneur you will need advice and support from a specialist lawyer.
Legislation in other countries
There can be major differences between countries in terms of their intellectual property law, contract law, compensation law, copyright law, trademark law, patent law and design law (design protection).
There are also differences between federal states in some countries.
Contract validity and legal issues will therefore depend on which markets you operate in. Most games companies in Sweden have the whole world as their market and often sell games on the US, European, Chinese and Australian markets. However, demand for games is also increasing in new markets such as the Arabian and Russian markets.
Regardless of where your customers and collaborations are, you should have access to a specialist lawyer who knows the games industry and the laws that apply in the country in which you are operating.
Tips to anyone looking to enter an international market:
- You must not assume that the laws are the same in every country. Enlist the help of a locally based lawyer or someone who has a knowledge of a particular country’s laws for some other reason.
- Although you must not assume that the laws are all the same, there are a number of international conventions which mean that the laws of many countries are actually very similar, e.g. within the EU.
- Assess the situation. Which countries would it be reasonable to have protection in? Applying for protection in every country can be both expensive and time-consuming.
- Check trademark databases. You should register your trademark not only to protect yourself, but also to ensure that you do not infringe anyone else’s rights.
For many games developers, the USA is an obvious market. When you are looking to protect your assets, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer who has a good knowledge of US legislation, as their laws are different from those of Sweden.
Differences in the USA compared with Sweden:
- In the USA, you can register copyright. People primarily do this so that they can prove that they are the copyright holder for their works. In Sweden, copyright applies automatically and can therefore not be registered.
- In the USA, you must already have your product on the market in order to register a trademark for it. In Sweden, you can register a trademark before you start using it.
- It is possible to apply for a basic software patent, i.e. a patent for computer programs and other software, in the USA. This is currently not permitted in Sweden and Europe.