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Delta-Lawyer
Delta-Lawyer, Patent Prosecutor
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 3546
Experience:  Patent Bar Certified
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I am the creator of real-life escape games based in Europe.

Customer Question

I am the creator of real-life escape games based in Europe. In a nutshell, a group of people need to solve various puzzles to escape the room, it is not dissimilar to the British Crystal Maze TV show. Recently I have started receiving enquiries for franchising
my games and I'm looking for some legal advice. What is the best way to protect my IP and somehow register the game's scenario, tasks, clues, etc so that no one can copy it and I can ensure the franchisee I have the rights to license it.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Delta-Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

I hope this message finds you well. I am a licensed US based intellectual property attorney with over a dozen years experience with both foreign and domestic filings. It is a pleasure to assist you today.

Based on what you have shared with me, you need to seek copyright protection on your idea. You can in turn sell this copyright either through assignment of all rights or limited licenses for franchises. You can go either way. The best method to acquire a copyright on the ideas associated therewith is to file for copyright protection through the EU Copyright Office.

Here is the link: http://www.eucopyright.com/

You will need to file for copyright protection for each game that you create. You can also file for copyright protection as to the idea as a whole. This is something you can do yourself, though I would recommend hiring an attorney in Geneva to assist in this work as it can get complicated.

Let me know if you have any other questions or comments.

Please also rate my answer positively as well (three or more stars), so I can receive credit for my work.

Best wishes going forward!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks for your answer. I have further questions please.Registration looks like a complicated process whereas I have prospective franchisee now. Can I license my games legally without the registration ? What if I just lodge a description of the game with a solicitor or send myself an envelope ?Also, there is no link to register on the website you suggested ?Thanks
Expert:  Delta-Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

Can I license my games legally without the registration ?

Yes, but it can be equally complicated without the same level of protection. You can have your prospective franchisee sign a non-disclosure, non-solicitation agreement wherein they will not provide detailed knowledge of the project and acknowledge that this is your property. You can also contractually define the parameters of your idea and protect them with contractual language from theft (in theory) with the franchisee. You can also outright assign the rights to the idea to the potential purchaser. This is done with a contract too.

What if I just lodge a description of the game with a solicitor or send myself an envelope ?

You can and should do that if you take the approach that is aforementioned. However, it is not foolproof and does not provide the same level of protection that would be had by registering the copyright.

Here is a great Geneva firm that can handle both contractual and filing issues for you: http://www.lorenz-law.com/

The filing comes through WIPO, in view of the Berne Convention. Here is information on that front: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2003/october/tradoc_111709.pdf

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The Berne Convention that you mentioned provides that my work receives automatic protection without formality. What and where do I need to file then ?
Expert:  Delta-Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

Note: I need to apologize...I was thinking about another European nation's laws as those of Switzerland relative to filing. Switzerland has no filing requirement for Copyright. Please see below and forgive my off-hand mistake.

The first thing to understand is that there is no such thing as an "international copyright" that will protect an author's works throughout the world with a single registration (unlike the multi-jurisdictional protection provided by a patent filing under the Patent Cooperation Treaty). Copyright law is "territorial" and national in scope. Regardless of where the author lives or where the work was first published, the copyright protection afforded to a work depends on the national laws of the country in which the author seeks protection.

So, while filing for protection in Switzerland is advisable and recognized relative to the Berne Convention, it is not the equivalent per se of an US based copyright.

Every legal system is principally national; in other words, under Swiss law, works and other protected matter are only protected in Switzerland. However, international treaties have been concluded to guarantee protection at an international level. They grant Swiss authors the same level of protection as authors residing in that country as long as that country and Switzerland are signatories to the same treaty. The majority of industrialized countries have signed the most important copyright (Berne Convention ) and related rights (Rome Convention ) treaties.

There is technically no filing requirement in Switzerland for Copyright...it is copyrighted upon creation and gives 70 years after the death of the author of protection.

That said, you still need to have this work in some form of written existence and it is imperative that you have strong contractual protection around the idea (as discussed in my first response). Your idea about mailing it to yourself if another means of protection, though again, not completely fool proof.

Let me know if you have any other questions, and again, my apologies for the confusion.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks but I wouldn't really want to pay for this. It looks like I found my answer myself after a lot of confusion and wasted time.
Expert:  Delta-Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

You can contact the admins and they can refund your money. My apologies again for the confusion.

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