The video game industry, valued at $120 billion by 2019, has most, if not all, of its value in intellectual property. The multiplicity of elements, expressions, and contents produced for the realization of video games also implies that these can be protected by combining numerous parts of the intellectual property.
In video games, there are:
- Technical elements: the computer program where it is developed, as well as the console where it can be played.
- Artistic elements: the story, along with the audiovisual production.
- Distinctive elements: logos, titles, or images that identify the game or its producer.
The computer program of the video game can be protected by copyright, and in some jurisdictions as patents. In many cases, the patent offers more suitable protection, especially against reverse engineering. Reverse engineering makes possible the reconstruction of the components of an object to determine how they work and how they were designed. This practice makes unauthorized reproduction of the object achievable. On the other side, copyright protection of computer programs covers the expression (code) behind the video game. Therefore, if someone else uses the concept on which the game is based and produces a different code, it would not be possible to prove a copyright violation. In this last scenario, where the law does not allow or restrict the patent for computer programs, it is recommended to seek other types of intellectual property for complementary protection.
The audiovisual work and other works contained in the video game can be the key to complementary protection. In audiovisuals, “moving images” are protected with or without audio. In music, you can protect everything from musical composition to production and performance. The original story expressed in the game can be protected as literary works. Other visual elements, such as covers, maps, plans, characters, topography, illustrations, graphic parts of the interface, can also be protected as artistic works.
The console and the devices used for the video game can be admitted as patents in its technical components and as industrial design in the aesthetic.
Focusing on the distinctive signs of the video game, the title, subtitle, characters, and objects within the game can be protected as trademarks. In addition, trade secrets can also protect other intangible assets related to the business of the video game or its producer as a list of users, customers, suppliers, distributors, creators and collaborators, internal process of creation, among others.
As we see, a good strategy of intangible assets well mixed with intellectual property can achieve an unbeatable result in video games.