Q: I gave the rights to a game I designed to a scammer who is not producing. Can I design a new game with the same theme?
I designed a game and it was picked up by a games publisher who has since been revealed to be a scammer, and their reputation in the industry is lower than dirt. Unfortunately, they refuse to relinquish any of my titles despite never producing anything. Can I design new games with similar themes to the ones I've signed over to them without risk of reprisal? How different do they need to be?
A: Ah, what an interesting legal area! Games-related cases date back quite a bit. On the analog side, you have Parker Brothers (now Hasbro) fighting to protect Monopoly by imitators like anti-Monopoly and Ghettopoly over decades. On the digital side, you can all all the way back to Pong for video game copyright cases!
Based on the (very) limited information offered, yours may be a potentially involved and complex matter with multiple legal paths to consider. An attorney would need to, among other things, review what agreements you have with the publisher, the extent to which the publisher may have acted in bad faith or failed to perform, and even what your design and creative plans and the potential that the publisher's intellectual property rights preclude those plans. As a "gamer" who knows a thing or two about how the industry intersects with IP protection, I can assure you that no attorney can adequately answer your question based on the limited information that you have provided. Consequently, you would have to spend some meaningful time with experienced counsel detailing the background leading up to your current situation and objectives.
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.