Posted on Categories creative industry

Protection of video games: Industrial design, patent, or trade secret?

When the concept for a video game takes shape, and an unprotected idea becomes a protected form of expression, the developer can consider how best to protect the game or elements of the game against copying by competitors. When thinking about legal protection of a video game, it is natural to refer to copyright law. But that is not the only potential source of protection. It is worth examining whether and to what extent elements of the game can be protected through industrial designs, patents, or perhaps trade secrets.

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Posted on Categories blockchain, changes in law

Blockchain and outsourcing

The Polish regulations directly referring to blockchain will be joined on 19 September 2020 by the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 9 March 2020 on Documents Connected with Banking Activities on IT Data Carriers. It expressly permits banks to store documents connected with banking activities on blockchain.

Under §5(2) of the new regulation, “A document may be stored in the form of a distributed and decentralised database. The bank shall operate the database in a manner ensuring the security and integrity of the documents contained in the database.” The phrase “distributed and decentralised database” used in this provision refers to blockchain, as is expressly stated in the justification to the draft of the regulation. Moreover, the identical phrase is used in other legal acts to refer to blockchain technology (e.g. in the provisions of the Commercial Companies Code devoted to the ledger of stockholders).

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Posted on Categories changes in law, electronic identification

Expanded legal significance of electronic seals

The Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 9 March 2020 on Documents Connected with Banking Activities on IT Data Carriers enters into force on 19 September 2020. This is a good occasion to discuss the expanded legal significance of the electronic seal.

The new regulation supersedes the prior executive regulation under Art. 7 of the Polish Banking Law. The noteworthy features of the new regulation include the systemic consolidation of the terminology through introduction of concepts consistent with the EU’s eIDAS Regulation (910/2014) and a direct reference to distributed ledger technology. (I will address the treatment of this technology in a separate article.)

It appears that inclusion in the new Polish regulation of terminology consistent with the eIDAS Regulation is more than a mere technicality. A closer analysis of the provisions raises the question of whether the regulation in fact expands the legal significance of the electronic seal.

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Posted on Categories creative industry

I have an idea for a video game. How can I protect it?

This is one of the most often asked questions. The answer is difficult and equivocal. On one hand, a good idea is half the way to success. On the other hand, ideas are regarded as free and should not be monopolised, but a specific manner or form of expression of an idea can be the subject of copyright protection. However, drawing the line between an unprotected idea and a protected manner of expression is a difficult challenge that depends on the specific factual circumstances. First it must be determined what can be protected in a computer game, and then how these elements can best be protected.

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Posted on Categories creative industry

Fundamental issues a game developer should pay attention to when negotiating a contract for publication of a video game

Contracts for publication of video games are concluded between game developers and companies specialising in publishing games (sometimes referred to “dev-publisher agreements”).

Just a few years ago, the word in the video game industry was that the role of publishers in the process of commercialising new games was on the way out, and the future of the industry was in self-publishing of games by developers. But publishers have not gone away, and still represent a hugely important element of the operation of the entire industry. For game developers, contracts with publishers are one of their key business relationships. The publisher typically provides not only services and knowhow in marketing and distribution of games, but also serves as a fundamental source for financing game development.

So as a developer, it is vital to consider the nature of cooperation with a publisher, and first and foremost what to pay attention to when negotiating the contract with the publisher.

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Posted on Categories creative industry

Copyright and game jams, hackathons and competitions

Game jams, hackathons and competitions are some of the methods for activating and engaging the game development community (as demonstrated for example by the popularity of Poland’s nationwide online game jam #zostanwdomurobgry, held by the Indie Games Polska Foundation on 30 March – 6 April 2020 under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education). Organising and promoting a competition is relatively uncomplicated. There are benefits on both sides. The participants have an opportunity to present their work, and the organiser gains access to a range of creative proposals. But such competitions pose copyright challenges, as we discuss below.

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