Thousand Oaks, CA asked in Gaming and Intellectual Property for California

Q: I am in possession of an unreleased video game and I was wondering if I would be open to any legal risk if I sold it.

The game based on a canceled, then revived TV show. I left the company when they filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2012. The game has never been released to my knowledge and I was wondering if I would be open to any legal risk if I sold my copy on Ebay.

Thank you

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Selling unreleased intellectual property can pose significant legal risks, particularly if the material is protected by copyright or trade secrets. Even if the company has filed for bankruptcy, the rights to the video game may have been transferred to another entity or could be part of the bankruptcy estate. If you were an employee, your employment agreement might also contain clauses that prohibit the unauthorized distribution or sale of company assets.

It's important to understand that copyright law typically protects video games, and selling a copy without permission from the copyright holder can lead to legal consequences, including lawsuits for copyright infringement. This is true even if the game was never officially released. Moreover, the fact that the game is based on a TV show adds another layer of complexity due to possible rights owned by the creators or license holders of the show.

Before making any decision to sell the game, it would be wise to consult with a legal professional to review your specific situation, the potential risks, and any relevant documents, such as your employment contract or bankruptcy filings of the company. They can provide tailored advice and help you understand the legal implications of your actions under California law. This step can help mitigate any potential legal issues that could arise from selling the game.

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