Why hello there Reddit. I usually spend my time over at /r/gamedev hosting a weekly AMA, informing developers of their rights, how intellectual property works, and a plethora of other things.

Just today, my article, which can be found here, about King (makers of Candy Crush) greatly harming the gaming industry was released!

Ask me anything about trademarks, contracts, the gaming industry, candies, or maybe even RAMPART!

My Proof:

My website

My twitter

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this post creates an attorney/client relationship. The only advice I can and will give in this post is GENERAL legal guidance. Your specific facts will almost always change the outcome, and you should always seek an attorney before moving forward. I'm an American attorney licensed in New York. THIS IS ATTORNEY ADVERTISING. Prior results do not guarantee similar future outcomes.

EDIT: I have to go to a dinner meeting now, but I've had a blast answering all these questions for the past three hours. I know every AMA OP says this, but I really will be back later and try to answer every single comment. Knowledge about the legal field is important to the gaming industry! Thanks for reading! Also, a note on attorney advertising...pretty much any public or online post needs that. The goal here is not to retain clients, but it's just to cover my ass :)

EDIT 2: I answered all your emails and most of the comments here. I have to call it a night because my dog is begging for a long walk, and I need to make sure I'm not falling too far behind in WoW. Also, I think Blizzard needs to send me stuff now because I gave them a free mention on the front page.

Comments: 2300 • Responses: 92  • Date: 

StormOfChaos1651 karma

Europe (the EU) is planning to forbid games (well, apps at least) being called "Free" if they force you to pay for virtually everything. Your view on this?

Edit: One of the sources
Edit Edit: If you enjoy Whatever Saga, great for you. I'm not judging.

VideoGameAttorney2431 karma

Fuck. Yes.

ecret1509 karma

I got a similar trademark email yesterday from apple that candy crush sent to app makers with the name candy in it, except for another generic word.
It is a free app that I do not care about. I just did it in a few days for fun last summer. I am probably just going to remove and rename it but I hate being bullied and do not want to validate their ridiculous claim. Suggestions?

edit::Just to be clear its not from candy crush but another company

VideoGameAttorney2962 karma

Email me at [email protected]

I have a standing offer in /r/gamedev to fight any frivolous claims like that for free.

spcms1042 karma

What is your take on mobile games with a great deal of in-app purchases to unlock features?

VideoGameAttorney2379 karma

They should be put on a small asteroid and hit with a rocket.

Jux_419 karma

How do I get to be your new best friend?

VideoGameAttorney1484 karma

I accept cash.

csolisr173 karma

Uh, being in the digital age and all that, do you accept cryptocurrencies?

VideoGameAttorney418 karma

I did for a while. My name on reddit actually used to be bitcoinattorney.

But the communities need to figure themselves out better. Total anarchy will never work, and it allowed a lot of jerks to be jerks and get rich quick and destroy them.

Birdmann017167 karma

Can we pay you to be our friend in Dogecoin?

VideoGameAttorney534 karma

The world will go crazy when it turns out dogecoin is the digital currency that makes it. It will be awesome.

GrnDyRx53 karma

So you like Dogecoin, we need your help, Ultra Pro (a clothing company) trademarked 'Doge' and we have no clue how to fight it. One company (moolah.io, a Dogecoin based company) has filed a notice of opposition. Is there any way you can help us/give us advice on what to do?

VideoGameAttorney56 karma

I would be happy to help with that. Problem is, there's no "leader" of doge coin and someone has to file the complaints. Get a list and email me :)

nuez_jr414 karma

Draw Something had use-'em-forever color packs for purchase. Over even a moderate time span it was easy to save up and acquire every one. Drawception has single-use color packs (and other limited-use power ups). My first thought was 'hey,now that's doing purchases right' since it's a continuing revenue stream.

What makes a good in-app purchase model good? What makes a bad one bad?

VideoGameAttorney723 karma

That's a good question. I know it's not mobile? But Dota 2 has the best microtransaction system I've seen. The mobile apps just (usually) are looking to make fast money and disappear. That's why there's so many infringing clones. The real question is why apple allows them all on there.

But a game like biker baron that is two bucks and hours and hours of fun, with only cosmetic purchases, is the perfect mobile app In my mind.

olivias_bulge240 karma

considering ISIS had an app for a while, I think their "reviewing" process is highly if not entirely automated

VideoGameAttorney175 karma

It certainly appears so, with only manual reviews when requested.

Reyzuken131 karma

You mentioned Dota 2 There, What's your opinion on Team fortress 2 Micro-transaction?

VideoGameAttorney181 karma

Honestly don't know its current model :/

It's the same as Dota isn't it?

PanComedor260 karma

You can buy silly hats

VideoGameAttorney677 karma

I require more hats.

mo0nsugar711 karma

What is your most important piece of advice for indie game developers?

VideoGameAttorney1555 karma

To take the law seriously. You keep seeing headlines about a little company bullied by the big ones. That's because the big ones have legal teams. You don't need that. But you DO need to know the law.

This isn't for everyone, but usually:

1) File a trademark for your company and game name.

2) Have independent contractor agreements written for freelancers. Otherwise THEY own everything they make for you.

3) Form some kind of corporate entity.

4) Understand legal fees suck, but they are a truly important part of your startup costs. For two grand you can get everything you need. Do it!


ButtPuppett284 karma


VideoGameAttorney672 karma

Stoic would have won if they fought (I believe.) The law is on the side of who's right, usually. It's up to the little guys to start confidently knowing they ARE right. I've offered to help many studios probono if things like this arise. But it's up to the community to start knowing about things like trademarks.

Justice-Solforge272 karma

You would represent someone free of charge if King went after them and they had a winning case?

VideoGameAttorney1036 karma

100% free. Not contingency. I don't want payment if we win. I want you to keep every dollar, and the people who are wrong to lose.

Squishyy_Ishii804 karma

You sound like Batman. Just throwing that out there.

VideoGameAttorney1204 karma

Parents are still alive :/

But I'll take it! Haha

Daimakaicho210 karma

You make it sound like you're disappointed your parents are alive...

VideoGameAttorney1232 karma

My mother's meatloaf is terrible.

avenger214272 karma

When do you get paid?

Thanks for the AMA, very interesting read.

VideoGameAttorney370 karma

I only accept Gil or rupees.

SamWham649 karma


VideoGameAttorney1066 karma

The only thing we have in common is that we are both made of pixels.

imR2534 karma

What would you say is the hardest part of being a video game attorney?

VideoGameAttorney2337 karma

Beating away all the women.

sashslingingslasher516 karma

Prepare to beat off all the indy devs asking for help after this AMA.

VideoGameAttorney897 karma

I host a weekly free legal advice AMA on /r/gamedev. It's completely welcome :)

nuez_jr484 karma

You're the first "white hat" game lawyer I've ever heard of. Is everybody else on the Dark Side?

VideoGameAttorney961 karma

The truth is the same as most fields. The assholes make the headlines, and the good guys fight quietly.

I decided to be a loud good guy. There's room for at least one of us ;)

The age old rule, like the first thing you leant in law school, is never call out someone for doing something wrong in your industry. They could be your next client.

That said, King is someone I would never work for, and I'm happy to rub their faces in what they did.

Undertoad208 karma

Just in case this is thankless work, I'd like to say...

Thank you! Thank you for being one of the good ones. Don't ever be cynical, even when it seems like being one of the good ones is only its own reward.

VideoGameAttorney193 karma

Thanks for reading. And I do have to remind myself of that sometimes. But I'm sure do most people.

Nightbreeze17359 karma

What is your take on a company such as EA or ubisoft putting popular franchises on an annual release schedule? Some think it is to settle the stock holders that ask, If call of duty can have a yearly release why can't Battlefield or Assassins creed.

VideoGameAttorney854 karma

When people stop flocking to madden and CoD at each release, then maybe it'll change. For now, they add a new feature or two and it's easy money. You'd do it too ;)

flinxsl157 karma

With sports games it is mainly about the roster updates. It could easily be a DLC instead of a $60 game...

VideoGameAttorney261 karma

I buy madden every year...I know I'm dumb. But I DO want those updates.

adityask98325 karma

Battlefield 4 was a really buggy game at launch and it still is. Do you think EA has cheated their customers by providing a semi-playable game? Has their been a legal case or something over this? Also, do you think they can get back their reputation by producing better games of different franchises, since the battlefield franchise has been damaged so badly?

VideoGameAttorney530 karma

That's a VERY good question. However, my next "bar games" article on gamefront.com is on false advertising with games (selling a good trailer for a crap game) and I don't want to answer prematurely. I'm putting in a lot of research this week, so I'll have a good answer for you soon.

polarbearurine239 karma

Also, do you think that the Watchdogs fiasco is legal? The fiasco being Ubisoft advertising excellent graphics at E3 and then purposefully taking them out at release.

VideoGameAttorney466 karma

I'm writing about this for my next gamefront.com article. Out in two weeks. Don't want to give a half answer here or my editor will karate chop me!

emogodfather196 karma

Oooh, nice, hoping to also see an article about Steam Early Access games.

VideoGameAttorney229 karma

Good idea!

IDFdefender292 karma

Who In your eyes is the most respectable publisher out there?

VideoGameAttorney689 karma

Blizzard. How they handled Dota 2 was the most standup thing I've ever seen. Protected their marks in a completely rational and fair way when they could have destroyed the game entirely.

Birgem159 karma

Sorry for the noob question, but could you elaborate on how Blizzard handled the situation?

DrZeroH359 karma

I'm not the lawyer but I can give you a basic idea.

The Original DoTA was created based off of the character models and engine from Warcraft 3 (which is all Blizzard property). When DoTA was then picked up by Valve, Blizzard could have completely butchered DoTA2 until it was unrecognizable. Instead of destroying the game by assertively fighting over each and every possible character model and skill animation they instead went with the more reasonable approach of protecting just their own work and allowing Valve almost unprecedented freedom to keep a lot of characters that honestly they would have thought impossible to keep.

Ajonos98 karma

True as far as we know

I still wish I knew what was going on behind the scenes... What with all the hero name changes. We used to have heroes called Skeleton King, Necrolyte, and Windrunner, and then suddenly they start changing the names to Wraith King, Necrophos, and Windranger? There's no way that legal teams weren't involved somehow...

PWL73316188 karma

A couple of those you mentioned directly infringe on other Blizzard games, the Skeleton King from Diablo and Sylvanas Windrunner from Warcraft. They were the inspiration behind their skills as well. Necrolyte might be from something also.

Blizzard probably drew a hard line because there is no doubt they own those characters.

Ed: Double-checked and the term Necrolyte is Warcraft as well. http://www.wowwiki.com/Necrolyte

Ed2: An additional reason might be that Blizzard wants those characters available in a MOBA they are making, Heroes of the Storm. Leoric and Sylvanas are already confirmed for eventually inclusion.

VideoGameAttorney89 karma

Exactly. And that's why I respect them. The SUPER infringey stuff they asked to be changed (or Valve changed preemptively) and Blizzard let Dota 2 live. Was a good choice for esports, and therefore Blizzard. But still a good guy move.

figypud250 karma

How do you go about getting a job as a video game attorney, and what's the pay like?

VideoGameAttorney629 karma

I'd study privacy law, employment law, and intellectual property law. I would know games backwards and forwards since a game developer can smell a fake a mile away. I'd also understand it's a new and evolving area of law that comes with a LOT of challenges.

As for the pay, I make about seven million dollars an hour. Before tax, of course.

TheJester220239 karma

so can i just have $1000? It will only take 0.0000085 of a minute. :(

VideoGameAttorney309 karma

Do you take Bitcoin?

numismatte239 karma

Do you think there is any stopping to Candy Crush or King as a whole anytime soon?

VideoGameAttorney401 karma

Depends what you mean by stopping. They were partly stopped as they backed down from their "candy" trademark app in the US after a lot of pressure from the IGDA (which I helped with, no big deal, haha.)

They still have it in the EU, and they own the rights to candy crusher which they've already used to defend just candy, so they are as powerful as they want to be.

It's up to the gaming community to stand up during the opposition phase when marks like these are filed for. Stoic could have, in my opinion, dominated King...but they chose not to. I'll never understand why, but I don't have all the info with them.

King makes an obscene amount of money and has a legal team with a large budget. They will be a thorn in the gaming industry's side for a long time, in my opinion.

numismatte87 karma

I guess "dying out" would've been a better way to phrase it. Thanks for the reply, though!

VideoGameAttorney189 karma

Fingers crossed! I really hate the archaic micro transaction games plaguing the AppStore. It's bringing in new gamers, but those new gamers are being heavily taken advantage of.

olivias_bulge177 karma

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HARD WORK!!! your advice has been very helpful. never ever quit reddit or /r/gamedev pls?

VideoGameAttorney179 karma

Never ever. I really enjoy seeing all the awesome stuff coming out of /r/gamedev and I'm happy to help with that in any way possible.

DarknessEvan175 karma

Have you played phoenix wright?

VideoGameAttorney395 karma

Of course. He's my hero. I even quote him on my firm's website, haha.

Rhaegarion154 karma

Is it difficult when dealing with other legal professionals who have bugger all knowledge about games or the industry?

VideoGameAttorney355 karma

Yes. But it usually means I win ;)

I once had an attorney who referred to final fantasy 3 as the same thing as "electronic chess."

bob_johnson_44124 karma

wow. the actual hell? what was that case about anyway?

VideoGameAttorney170 karma

Trademark opposition. Not a case exactly. It's why when filing trademarks for games you should really make sure you use someone who knows genres of the industry you're filing in!


For ffIII???!!! I could understand final fantasy tactics advance... But not FFIII

VideoGameAttorney142 karma

Just an attorney who thought anything on a screen was the same thing. And he was/is a very successful entertainment lawyer. Great at his job, but not knowing games hurts.

hdyfaf124 karma

How do you feel about flamingos?

VideoGameAttorney418 karma

Pretentious fucks.

AntithesisD123 karma

From your point of view, where does the limit between an acceptable amount of micro-transactions and an unacceptable amount of microtransactions go?

Candy Crush is a good example of unacceptable, although to be fair, it's quite possible to play it without paying anything. What about Dota 2's style? What about Steam?

Best regards Not a Steam-employee.

VideoGameAttorney193 karma

Dota 2 doesn't ever ever ever REQUIRE you to pay anything. That's the good model. I love your game, I want my character to look different, boom I pay you. They make a ton of money from it so it works.

Good microtransaction systems stem from good games. Bad from bad.

That_Guy381114 karma

What game has broken more rules than any other, but still remains popular today?

VideoGameAttorney176 karma

Haha, wow, that's a good question. I would say, surprisingly, Second Life has MADE the most rules. As been part of the most cases and scholarly articles.

Mclovin31696 karma

How much does King make from in app purchases? Something like buying a life for .99 cents.

VideoGameAttorney205 karma

I'm not sure the number holds but I read a month ago they made something like two million a day.

edit: it appears to be closer to one million now. Poor guys :( http://thinkgaming.com/app-sales-data/2/candy-crush-saga/

Limiate79 karma

What's the best way to register a trademark for a game/company? Legalzoom?

VideoGameAttorney174 karma

God no! Legalzoom overcharges for the easy stuff and undercharges and fails at the hard stuff. It's not fun, but expect to pay about 900 dollars (including all government fees) for a trademark attorney. Email me at [email protected] and I can set you up with one that fits.

Dav1dDavidson76 karma

If I were to hold an event in California where, I would charge people 5 dollars to come to our venue, which would allow them to play games, and also offer the option to pay an additional 5 dollars to enter a tournament where the pay out would be; 55% of tournament entry fees go to first place, 30% to second place, and 15% goes to third. Would California Business and Professions Code Section 17539.35 make that illegal? Bearing in mind it is a skill based game.

I am trying to convince my boss to let me run a tournament but he is convinced it is illegal to run a rolling prize pool.

VideoGameAttorney104 karma

I would call an attorney who knows gambling laws in your state. Probably won't be a cheap answer though :/

humza27776 karma

What's your favourite Video Game OST?

VideoGameAttorney212 karma

My favorite game right now is Dota 2. I'm really enjoying Wildstar right now. And all time, it would have to be final fantasy 7. Although I put way more hours into WoW than I'd like to admit.

And since I just realized OST means original soundtrack (thanks to a friend), it's easily Bastion. I know that's cliche. But it's well deserved.

smellslikedonkey75 karma

I have a Trademark Question! I posted this to r/legaladvice and barely had any responses...

I seem to have stepped into a bit of a Trademark issue. First off, I'm in Canada and the trademark in question was registered here. Also, I probably will be consulting a lawyer eventually.

So I created a card game for iOS based on a game that has been played here for well more than 100 years. It got some recognition in local newspapers yesterday and people seem to really like it.

Then I get an email from a guy who owns the registered trademark for the game (he has his own version of it that he has been selling for many years) that was registered in the 80's.

So is this trademark is legally enforceable at all? I know nothing prevents him from trying to enforce it. It seems a little weird that some guy can register a Trademark on a game that has been around for a very very long time.


EDIT: To me this is much like some individual Trademarking "Poker" which seems like it wouldn't fly at all.

VideoGameAttorney105 karma

I unfortunately am not allowed to answer specific legal questions in this forum. Email me at [email protected] and I can take a look for you.

smellslikedonkey35 karma

I'll email you too but in broad strokes is it possible to get an enforceable trademark on a public domain game (something widely played for many years)?

VideoGameAttorney79 karma

You can't trademark a game mechanic. You can trademark a name. Depends on what you mean.

smellslikedonkey45 karma

Can you trademark a name of a game that has been around and widely played for many many years before the trademark was issued. For example, can someone trademark "Poker" or "Chess"

VideoGameAttorney83 karma

Almost definitely not. Again, this is general advice and not to be read as an answer to your specific question. Also, canDian law may be different.

TwistedEdge71 karma


VideoGameAttorney133 karma

Two things:

1) Know that the publisher WANTS you. Otherwise they wouldn't be wasting time. Yes, they have most of the leverage, but you have something they want so don't be walked over.

2) KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SIGNING. And yes, this almost certainly means paying an attorney for an hour of his time to review the contract and perhaps send a counteroffer. But WOW is that worth it if something winds up haywire months down the line. Don't sign big contracts without a lawyer.

TwistedEdge38 karma


VideoGameAttorney53 karma

It truly depends on the deal. I've written plenty where the developer keeps the rights though. It's never black and white. Publishers want money, and sometimes they can get a better deal in another part of the agreement by letting you retain IP ownership.

Hardalor70 karma

Since the two main words that King has claimed as theirs are VERY common words used a broad terms for more then just products for them, is there anything that the industry as a whole is able to do to fight back and get these overturned?

Also a little extra note, is that article did bring more light to reasons why I will NEVER support King games. So thank you for that great article.

VideoGameAttorney109 karma

Yes but you really need a product in the marketplace to fight it. I've put an open call to any game companies with titles older than candy crush who use "candy" or "saga" in their names to reach out to me. I was able to work with the IGDA and /r/gamedev to get the community back on it's feet a bit, legally, after this initial attack. What's done is done, but it will be fought again and I'll do my best to be there with the gloves off.

PrairieSkiBum60 karma

The makers of The Banner Saga are having trouble with a sequel I'm to understand. Go help them......PLEASE.

VideoGameAttorney114 karma

I've yet to find a good way to contact them, but please let them know to reach out to me. I wouldn't charge them a dime.

Cabnboy30 karma

Since King grabbed the oldest known Trademark of Candy they could find, won't it be more difficult to fight a new fight now? How would you go about beating them (without laying out your specific plans.. you never know who's watching..)?

VideoGameAttorney81 karma

They own candy crusher now. They withdrew candy (in America, they have it in the EU.) If they start a new action saying they own candy. Light the VGA signal and I will appear.

NorbitGorbit69 karma

what issues as a VGA are specific to video games and not to any other industry?

VideoGameAttorney141 karma

Video game law is the context in which the laws apply. Yes, on a basic level it is intellectual property law, contract law, employment law, etc. But if you don't know how the laws relate to game companies, the relevant case law, or if you don't know the difference between final fantasy and Wildstar, you have no business legally representing a game company.

The internet changed almost everything, games took it a step further and continue to every day. It's all "entertainment law" but I'd want a movie attorney writing my game contract as much as I'd want a podiatrist operating on my heart.

NorbitGorbit48 karma

what's the biggest issue a small company should look out for in terms of videogame law that they might not consider (outside of using "candy" or "saga" in your game names)?

VideoGameAttorney90 karma

Trademark your game and company names! Also, if you hire a freelancer, without a contract THEY own all the IP they make for you. And the biggest question I get: it doesn't matter if your game is free. Infringement is infringement.

Melnorme66 karma

Did you choose New York as a base of practice for a particular reason? What do you do with out-of-state clients?

VideoGameAttorney123 karma

The pizza was delicious. (Plus I'm from here)

I help a lot of out of state clients, as most of what I do is federally run. If I'm unable to help I know good attorneys in most states that I recommend.

thejpn61 karma

How does one become a video game attorney and do you have any general advice for someone starting law school?

VideoGameAttorney130 karma

Network over making law review. At least that's advice I followed and am happy I did.

As for how you become a video game attorney, I opened my own law firm. Try that ;)

If not, learn IP law, employment law, contracts, and privacy law. Then send me your resume when you graduate.

shibby00861 karma

From what you've seen, what game is poised to become the next candy crush?

VideoGameAttorney177 karma

I honestly wouldn't call out a single game in particular. It's more the fact that King has shown this is now possible, meaning we can unfortunately expect it from a lot of overnight success gaming companies. Not only did they come in with a bullying mindset, but when it was thrown in their face that perhaps they cloned their game, they just went and bought the oldest "Candy" trademark they could find and used that as a means to say "Our history is older."

It's a completely legal move. But it's also a really shitty move.

rschnell50 karma

Isn't a word like candy public domain though? That's like trademarking/owning the TM for 'shirt'.

Then suing anyone who claimed their upper body wear was a tshirt.

VideoGameAttorney111 karma

Trademarks are broken into classes of goods. It's how apple owns apple. But you couldn't trademark apple in "foods." That's a super oversimplified explanation, but you follow?

rschnell29 karma

[long post, two questions]

This just seems incredibly complicated. What if company A owns the TM for Bubbles in food, and company B own the TM for Bubbles in Technology-entertainment. Is there any way company A could make a form of entertainment using "Bubbles" in the the category where company B already owns it?

Cool, I just gave myself an aneurism.

Green Bay Packers own the TM for "title town". They have sued/litigated/whatever restaurants from using title town in their name... The Packers are a sports franchise, a restaurant is not a sports franchise. I've been thinking of starting a company to deal with computer goods and such using "title town" [I live in title town], but am not doing so because of legal stuff. I don't even know what kind of lawyer to talk to after I get started. Would I be safe because they're different goods? Sports franchise vs technology...

VideoGameAttorney44 karma

If talk to a trademark attorney. I'm one of those, but can't answer specific legal questions on reddit. You'll have to email me.

As for your first question, it almost certainly wouldn't be allowed to cross into another "class of goods" where someone already owned that mark.

Lanowar45 karma

What's something consumers should be more aware of when it comes to their legal rights and video games?

VideoGameAttorney107 karma

That your wallets are setting the precedent for the future of the gaming industry. When a company like king is supported, the USPTO and legislators see that. That makes what they do "okay."

And when consumers keep the top 50 section of the App Store entirely filled with dumb cloned microtransaction games, that's all game studios then want to make.

Supermansadak44 karma

Some games are complete rip offs why don't they get prosecuted?

VideoGameAttorney70 karma

The person who owns the IP doesn't or hasn't gone after them yet.

Supermansadak38 karma

Okay so if bejewelled decided to go after Candy Crush do you think they'd have a chance?

VideoGameAttorney90 karma

Nope. There's no trademark confusion, so they'd have to use copyright. Copyright is only infringed if a game is "substantially similar." Ten years ago, maybe. But now with how we have allowed the gaming industry to get? It's far enough apart to be fine.

((Side note: you can't copyright game mechanics!))

SapienChavez43 karma

whats your take on the "scrolls" issue? afaik, this was the first of this kind of case in the video game industry.

ps- i have had a trademark "stolen" through bullying. I work in the produce industry (and live in silicon valley, to bring this back to gaming :) and one of the largest companies in the industry started using my brand name on another commodity. I had my lawyers send a C&D but it was just ignored. sending just that letter was more than i could afford, and they obviously knew it. so, how does a little guy protect himself? (i technically/legally do still own the mark. and i use it everyday.)

VideoGameAttorney51 karma

If you don't have money for an attorney, follow these steps: http://www.ehow.com/how_6811811_file-claim-trademark-infringement.html

Fleckenwhatever25 karma

What are your thoughts on Wizards of the Coast suing Cryptozoic regarding Hex?


And the full text of the complaint here:


On a scale from one to boned, how boned is Cryptozoic and Hex?

VideoGameAttorney40 karma

It's something I'm looking into for an article, but I don't know enough about hex to comment. To infringe on copyrights something must be substantially similar. That's usually a carbon copy. To infringe on trademarks, it needs to be "confusingly similar." From a quick glance it appears to be a copyright case. It would have to be real close to lose in my opinion.

RageInf3rno24 karma

So when you offer help to a dev and their game gets published, do you ever get offered a copy of the game as part of the fee?

VideoGameAttorney52 karma

Not as part of the fee, but as a gesture of kindness, yes. I really love seeing my client's games grow also. That's not a sappy sales pitch. It's the truth.

mr_sarle17 karma

Hello, I worked in game support all through out law school. I got admitted a year ago, doing discovery now. I want to go back to the video game industry, any advice? Thank you

VideoGameAttorney18 karma

What state are you in?

superandy5 karma

How much pull does Microsoft (or others) have when a developer goes out of business and their development hardware (kits) end up at auction / Ebay / get sold?

VideoGameAttorney7 karma

I'm on my phone, but I'd google and link to the doctrine of first sale. That usually applies, with the exception that many engines and things are never sold, only licensed. Meaning you don't own them and can't sell them.

unholyfire4 karma

How would an indie dev with no established entity/identity go about getting in contact with a registered/trademark owner and be taken seriously? I have made such contact attempts and been ignored in the past for requests regarding licensing rights. It's a real struggle, when you have an idea and really want to devote your craft to bring it to life, but have a block of the emptiness that is refused communication. Suggestions?

VideoGameAttorney8 karma

It depends on the mark you're looking for. Some people don't want their IP diluted. Your idea might be great, but if it's Star Wars or something like that, understand they get thousands of requests a week.

The best thing you can do is create your own IP. You're a game designer. That doesn't mean you are just good at math and can code. If it did you'd write bank software. Use that creative mind and make the NEXT Star Wars instead of begging to use the one that's here already.

(I may have dodged your question a bit, and if I did I'm sorry. Truly, there's no good way. A lot of times they are unresponsive because of the amount of requests they get. An attorney helps, but not much.)

rockstarsball4 karma

I'm about to enter law school and I was really interested in criminal law however i'm curious what your focus was in law school that landed you a job as a video game attorney. did you mostly focus on IP law and copyright or are there other disciplines that i just don't know are options?

VideoGameAttorney3 karma

I went to law school with criminal in mind and feel in love with IP. Before that, I didn't know the difference between a trademark and a copyright.

See what interests you and pursue it like crazy.

rschnell4 karma

How on earth can game/movie companies use the "fact" that your ip address is on a torrent as proof of stealing a product?

[IP addresses can be spoofed]

[IP addresses on torrents aren't 100%]

The only thing they can say with any semblance of fact; albeit loose, is that they [the content owners], gave IP address xxx.yyy.zzz.aaa information. Absolutely no claim that any information was stolen can be made in the slightest - yet it is. If they're the content holder giving someone data isn't stealing, they're giving it to you. They can not know that person a1 - z20 transfered data to me, they only can know that they gave information to me.

How is such an egregiously false assumption allowed in court as evidence.

VideoGameAttorney15 karma

Oh come now. FAR less believable evidence is accepted daily in courts. How about just basic emails? You know how easy it is for me to change that around? Or even a simple picture?

Courts don't know tech. Legislation is years behind. And we still allow republicans to vote.

Until those things change, I'd get a good attorney. (Also, use peer blocker you dolt!) <3

rschnell4 karma

I just stopped torrenting. It's not like any games or movies these days are worth the trouble.

I guess it's just scary to see all of this happen and have a formal education behind it all to be able to see when and where the bullshit is.

VideoGameAttorney8 karma

It's terrifying to know who writes the laws about science and tech.

rschnell3 karma

who writes the laws about science and tech.

The guys who know absolutely nothing about it :'( I feel you. You're doing good work on the good side though. So slap your monitor really hard because a high-five is coming your way.

VideoGameAttorney7 karma

Did it. Felt you through the ether.

And don't worry, I'm running for president in 2032.

shoelessjoejack3 karma

I'm a hard worker and I love video games and the law. I graduated from law school last year, passed the NY and NJ bars, and live in NYC. What advice do you have for trying to get into your particular field of law?

VideoGameAttorney3 karma

A few firms are starting "games" teams. I would reach out to them after you really brush up on the relevant areas of law.

csolisr3 karma

What is your opinion on free software licenses (and alternate methods of financing, such as crowdfunding) for the development of videogames?

VideoGameAttorney4 karma

They're GREAT in theory, but becoming popular enough that a lot of "less-than-good" people are taking advantage of them.

ronnilingus3 karma

Hey, thanks for doing this AMA. As a law student it's great to get a window into a niche practice area like this. I have a couple questions:

Do you only work on the trademark/copyright side of intellectual property or do you do patent work as well?

You said you worked in the industry on the non-legal side and have your own practice now. Did you do anything else in between? What kind of legal experience do you have?

Also, you mentioned the importance of networking and I completely agree. Can you go into a little more detail about how that worked out for you?

Thanks again.

VideoGameAttorney4 karma

Knowing people is so much more important than one line on your resume. It's gotten me clients, good advice, and friendships.

I worked at a law firm afterwards, yes. It taught me what to do to keep sane with things get crazy.

And as far as patents go, I don't personally do them, but a member of my team does.

Runkle872 karma

I have been toying with the idea of making a game that I would upload to Facebook. My game idea doesn't overlap any other games that I'm aware of but should I be worried about inadvertently copying another game? Would I be expected to perform any due diligence before actually making the game?

Thanks for your advice!

VideoGameAttorney2 karma

Copyright wise you should be fine. I'd be weary about advertising a name without a proper trademark search because if a problem arises you'll lose all your marketing and word of mouth. If your looking at it as a serious money making prospect, talk to an attorney and trademark it!

SloMoMonday2 karma

Seeing how services like Steam and PSN are a platform to effectively distribute a game and the smart use of social media can essentially market a game to a massive audience, do you think big publishers (who were once the only people who could provide these services) will still be relevant in the industry in the long term?

VideoGameAttorney3 karma

Shh! (But no)

Haha, I've been saying that for years now. When someone figured out how to make green light and the AppStore actually decent, THEN publishers will be so irrelevant. Not to mention the death of consoles.

I hear reddit has a decent filtering system. Imagine green light or the AppStore with a few knights of new filtering the clones and trash?

styten2 karma

What can indie developers do to protect their ideas and retain rights to their in-development games before thy come out?

VideoGameAttorney2 karma

Trademark your name and make sure you have proper agreements with your freelancers! I can't answer specific questions here, but if you have any email me at [email protected]

OldTimeRadio_3D2 karma

How does one successfully inquire about the licensing costs of an old game engine and not get blown off? The engine I have in mind is the Aurora engine by Bioware, circa 2002. Bioware was long bought out by EA and the Aurora engine hasn't been used in anything in around a decade, but I'd still like to inquire what they'd charge for licensing.

How would one go about getting a quote? Who does one contact and is it expected that the inquiry won't be treated seriously unless it's sent through a lawyer or something like that?

VideoGameAttorney4 karma

Unfortunately, a lawyer is a help but not a definite when trying to get an answer. I would try yourself to contact whoever owns it, and if not response and you REALLY want it, try with a lawyer. Then that's that usually :/

Carnifex2 karma

What kind of website is that article on? It tells me that whatsapp which I don't have installed, is too old and needs to be updated... Pretty sure this is some malware

VideoGameAttorney2 karma


It's pretty popular. That's a very strange bug I'll tell the IT guys!

Carnifex2 karma

I'm pretty sure that's not a bug...

It didn't happen the second time until I opened the link in an inkognito tab I chrome. Then I got the offer to install the game front app, which is OK, but I declined, and then I got this again:


VideoGameAttorney3 karma

Thanks for the photo. Will send it in as well. Very strange.

banned_accounts2 karma

What do you think is a better business model than micro-transactions?

Oh, and what's your favourite candy?

VideoGameAttorney4 karma

I like free to play with non game changing microtransactions. I also order subscription fees in my mmo's, but I know I'm on an island with that.

I only eat crushed candy. It turns into a real saga.

nuez_jr1 karma

Is there any reason to prefer (or not) a single-app release that unlocks full content via an in-app purchase over publishing two apps, one a free demo and the other the paid full version?

VideoGameAttorney3 karma

That's 100% a marketing strategy. I don't know the numbers of which works better, but I'd assume the inapp unlock since it doesn't require a second trip to the App Store.

snegtul1 karma

Today in Made-Up Careers: Video Game Attorneys, proving once and for all that living in your moms basement playing video games all day long does not in fact, waste your life.

Seriously, is there a law specialty for every fucking thing? What does a video game attorney do all day besides binge on doritos, mountain dew, assassins' creed and legalese?

VideoGameAttorney2 karma

I've been trolled! I've finally made it mom!

momzthebest1 karma

Do you believe that the concept of decade long console releases is dead? Or even the concept of a single, non-modular console will die soon?

VideoGameAttorney3 karma

Consoles are something your kids won't believe existed. As are game disks.