One of the most important assets for any company is its Intellectual Property (IP). This importance is increased even more when we talk about video game companies. Things such as the video game name, the underlying code, etc are fundamental parts of the game and need protection from unauthorised use.
Video Games Considered as Trademarks – The video game name is the first thing that is associated with the game and should be trademarked to acquire the exclusive rights to its usage. The exclusive right to use the video game name is important as it constitutes a great source of income. It is advised that the name should be trademarked at the earliest so that no problems arise during the production of the game.
A trademark is a registered mark that identifies a word, phrase, symbol, etc of your brand. A trademark helps in building a reputable brand, which can be distinguished from its competitors using the said trademark. For a video game company, the name of the company, the name, and logos of the games, etc can be trademarked to protect the IP.
Benefits of Trademarking a Video Game Title
Copyrights are usually used by a video game to go after unauthorised users but trademark only protects the original work as the code of the video game. A trademark protects the name of the game and other identifiers. While copyright infringement claims carry more persuasive and legal value, trademark infringement claims are weapons that have proved successful in the past. Some of the reasons why you should trademark your video game titles are:
- Prevents Problems Arising from Choosing a Similar Video Game Title
The first step to trademark a name with USPTO requires a search for conflicts with pre-existing trademarks. This is done using USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TEAS). Conducting this search diligently is important for multiple reasons. Most importantly, it has the potential of saving the video game company millions of dollars as any potential conflict with the video game is found and rectified during this search. If no conflict is found, the video game company can register the name which would prevent other companies from unauthorized usage of the name.
- Exclusive Use of Game Title
In a saturated market filled with similar products, it is important to trademark your identity so that the company’s competitors don’t get a chance to steal your IP. Trademarking your video game titles gives you the exclusive right to use them, which extends to using the same title or titles which are too similar to the registered title. USPTO provides the exclusive use of the registered trademark for 10 years, with an option of applying for additional 10 years.
- Protection Against Clones
The code of the video game is protected by copyright law and not trademark law. However, registering a trademark with USPTO allows the company to use the ® symbol. This symbol is used with the video game title and is an indicator to the competitors that the IP of the company is protected. This provides the companies tools to fight similar titles capitalising on the market success of a previous game by misleading consumers into believing that they originate from the same studios or are related to it.
- Merchandising Opportunities
Trademarking the video game title allows the company to plan for the future and make sequels and make merchandise based on the trademarked name. The paraphernalia and the merchandise related to beloved video games are highly adored by fans and trademarking the video game title ensures that this happens. These marketing opportunities are only possible through trademarking.
- Litigation Advantage
Trademarking your video game title allows the company to avoid legal troubles arising from trademarking your video game title. The trademark registration is very valuable in a court of law and creates a presumption in the company’s favour about their exclusive right to use it. After 5 years from registration, the registered trademark becomes incontestable which is helpful for trademark infringement cases.
- Investors and Venture Capitalists
Having a trademark for your IP increases the market share of the company which attracts more interest from venture capitalists and other investors. This is because trademarking increases the possibility of franchising for the video game company.
- Worldwide Protection
A trademark registered with USPTO provides universal protection for the trademark. Having worldwide protection in a world where Appstore like steam, play store, etc are available throughout the world is desired for a company which has plans to expand. Worldwide protection also means that every unauthorised use is covered under it, no matter the country of origin.
Even though the code of the game is the most important part of the process which is covered under copyright law, trademarking your video game name is equally important to protect the game’s identity. Vakilsearch can help you file a video game trademark application in the United States. Vakilsearch will do trademark research, select trademark classes, prepare the application and the required documents, and apply and monitor the examination – publication – registration process.