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Protecting your company’s intellectual property

By Pinja Hoffrichter and Tuomas Pelkonen
Published: 13.06.2023 | Posted in Insights

A guide to clearing and securing your intellectual property rights

Intellectual property (IP) is a critical aspect of the gaming industry, as it protects the unique elements that distinguish a game from others and provide it with value. To protect and clear their IP rights, gaming companies should take the following steps:

Conduct a thorough search and analysis

Before using any IP in a game, the company should conduct a thorough search of existing IP to determine if the use may infringe on the rights of others. For example, a game world may include logos which are similar or identical to registered trademarks, which may impose a risk of infringement. Keeping good records of sources of inspiration will help in conducting the search. The company should also consult with an IP attorney to assess any potential legal risks.

Register IP

Registering trademarks, copyrights, and patents can provide legal protection and help prevent others from using similar IPs. In most of the countries, copyright protection is achieved automatically and there is no need for registering. Copyright usually protects a game’s visual appearance, characters, computer programming, and music. Trademark and patent protection can be achieved by registration. The company should at least consider registering company’s and game’s name and logo as a trademark in the relevant countries for the company’s business. It is advisable to consult an IP lawyer already before the name of the game is chosen, to make sure that the name can be registered as a trademark.

Use licensing agreements

Not everything has to be invented by yourself. Companies can license IP from others to use in their games. It is important to have a written agreement that specifies the terms of use, including how and for what purposes IPs can be used, the duration of the license, the payment terms, and the rights and obligations of each party.

Protect confidential information

Ideas and business strategies cannot usually be protected by registering any of IP rights, but they can be protected by law as a trade secret or by contract as confidential information. Companies should protect confidential information, such as source code, by using non-disclosure agreements with employees, contractors, and partners. In addition, the company should aim to protect confidential information technically as well. Access to documents or files can be restricted to authorized personnel, or files can be kept behind passwords. This will help prevent the unauthorized dissemination of confidential information.

Monitor infringement

It is not enough that you have registered and secured your IP rights, but the gaming companies should also monitor the market for potential IP infringement and take action to enforce their rights. Make sure to act immediately when you suspect an infringement. If you are passive and delay your actions, you might lose your rights to invoke your intellectual property rights against the infringement. The action may include sending cease-and-desist letters, opposing other companies’ trademark applications, filing lawsuits, or negotiating settlements.

Train employees and agree on the IP rights

Companies should train employees on IP law and the importance of protecting IP. Employees should be aware of the risks of using unlicensed IP and the importance of maintaining confidentiality.

Make sure to agree on the copyrights of the creative works of the employee. In Finland, the copyright of computer program and databases belong automatically to the employer, but other type of copyright belongs to the creator, which is usually an employee or group of employees. Make sure that you have agreed in the written employment contracts how the copyrights are transferred to the company. Additionally, it is advisable to agree upon work inventions and the compensation that the employee is entitled of any inventions that he/she produces at work.

Update IP portfolio

As the company grows and develops new games, it should continuously update its IP portfolio to ensure that it is protected. By updating their IP portfolios, companies can ensure that their valuable assets are adequately protected and that they have the necessary legal rights to prevent others from using or infringing upon their IP. Companies evolve their business strategies, enter new markets, or introduce new products or services. Updating the IP portfolio allows companies to align their IP protection with their evolving business goals and strategies. It ensures that the IP assets are relevant, properly aligned with the company’s objectives, and adequately protected in the jurisdictions where the company operates or plans to expand.

By taking these steps, gaming companies can protect and clear their IP rights, which will help them maintain control over their products and prevent others from profiting from their hard work.

It is important to note that IP law is complex and constantly evolving, so companies should regularly consult with IP attorneys to ensure that their IP is protected and that they are in compliance with the latest legal requirements in each jurisdiction where the company does business.

In conclusion, protecting and clearing IP rights is critical for gaming companies to maintain control over their products and prevent others from profiting from their hard work. Companies should conduct a thorough search and analysis to avoid potential infringements, register their IP to prevent others from using the company’s IP, use licensing agreements to utilize someone else’s IP lawfully, protect confidential information to prevent unauthorized dissemination, monitor infringement and enforce your IP rights effectively, train employees, and continuously update their IP portfolio. With the right legal protections in place, gaming companies can ensure that their IP remains a valuable asset for years to come.

Read more about our services related to intellectual property.

Contact us


Pinja Hoffrichter
Attorney, Partner, Helsinki +358 40 518 2234
Tuomas Pelkonen
Senior Associate, Helsinki +358 40 846 8107

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