Recently in Copyright Category

Game Cloning Can be Stopped!

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MC900250090.jpgA federal court recently found copyright infringement based on a developers copying of aspects of the popular Tetris game, even though the code itself was not copied. This ruling confirms that IP can be used to effectively prevent certain cloning practices that are prevalent with online games. While this case focused on copyright infringement, a passing note by the court highlights how patents can be instrumental to a comprehensive IP strategy as well.

In this case, Tetris sued Xio Interactive Inc. over its game Mino. Mino is a falling block game which incorporates game-play rules similar to Tetris, as well as utilizing a similar playing area and geometric block combinations. In its opinion, the court stated that game developers are free to use others' ideas, but not the expression of those ideas. The court noted that the idea-expression dichotomy in the video game world is "simple to state- copyright will not protect an idea, only its expression - but difficult to apply, especially in the context of computer programs."

The court summarized the law by stating generally that game mechanics and rules are not entitled to copyright protection, but courts have found expressive elements copyrightable, including game labels, design of game boards, playing cards and graphical works. Significantly however, the court noted that game mechanics and other functional game features can be patented.

The court determined that Xio did more than just incorporate Tetris' underlying rules in Mino. In looking at the similarity of the look and feel of the two games, the court stated that "[t]here is such similarity between the visual expression of Tetris and Mino that it is akin to literal copying" regardless of the fact that Xio did not actually copy the underlying Tetris code. For a more detailed discussion of this case, please see our client alert

If you are a game developer and want to maximize your ability to shut down clones, it is critical to have a comprehensive IP strategy that incorporates both patents and copyrights. If you rely just on copyright, a more skillful game cloner can change the expressive elements enough to avoid copyright infringement. But if you patent core mechanics of your novel game, you can prevent others from copying that functionality regardless of how different they make the expressive elements.

For more information on IP protection for games, see IP Protection for Games.

Around the Virtual World - June 4-8, 2012

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A weekly wrap up of interesting news about virtual worlds, virtual goods and other social media.


 

 

Social network LinkedIn reports stolen passwords

Business social network LinkedIn said Wednesday that some of its users' passwords have been stolen and leaked onto the Internet. LinkedIn Corp. did not say how many of the more than six million passwords that were distributed online corresponded to LinkedIn accounts. In a blog post Wednesday, the company said it was continuing to investigate.

Ubisoft Wants 'Assassin's Creed' Copyright Claims Offed

Ubisoft Entertainment SA asked a California federal court on Wednesday to kill an author's allegations that the video game maker's popular "Assassin's Creed" infringes a copyrighted novel, saying the writer's claims cover generic aspects of the stories that can't be protected.

Android Ruling A Sweeping Win For Open Source Software

A California judge's ruling Thursday that certain Oracle Corp. Java software cannot be copyrighted is an important vindication for accused infringer Google Inc. and open source software in general, but whether the decision will have broad ramifications for software copyrights remains to be seen, attorneys say.

City introduces private social network for neighborhoods

San Mateo is making Nextdoor, www.nextdoor.com, available to all San Mateo neighborhoods.  Nextdoor, the first private social network for neighborhoods, is designed to foster neighbor-to-neighbor and citywide communication. Starting now, San Mateo residents can use Nextdoor to create private websites for their neighborhoods where they can get to know their neighbors, ask questions and exchange local advice and recommendations. Topics of discussion on Nextdoor are as varied as local events, school activities, plumber and babysitter recommendations, disaster preparedness, recent crime activity, upcoming garage sales or even lost pets.

Smartphones, tablets threatening handheld video games

Smartphones and tablet computers are expanding the market for handheld video games and challenging traditional devices, forcing game developers to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape. Executives at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) held this week in Los Angeles said the industry -- long focused on generating blockbuster titles for PlayStation, Wii or Xbox 360 -- are taking a new look at portable platforms.

World's Largest Multi-Stakeholder Virtual Care Community Launched by the Premier Healthcare Alliance

The Premier healthcare alliance's PremierConnect(TM) technology platform will be at the fingertips of more than 100,000 clinicians, supply chain leaders, hospital executives and other healthcare providers nationwide, allowing them to interact as one in communities of common interest.

Mary Meeker's Latest Stunning Presentation About the State of the Web

No one in the entire world is as good at summarizing the state of the technology business through slideshow presentations as Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker. She's about to do it again at the All Things D conference.
 

Around the Virtual World

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A weekly wrap up of interesting news about virtual worlds, virtual goods and other social media.





Magid National Study Finds Social Networking Gaming Growth is Slowing

The research, conducted as part of the Magid Media Futures 2012 study, found social network gaming user growth has slowed in the United States. About two in five (38%) social network users, up slightly from 36% in '11, say they regularly play games on social networks. Social network gaming has decreased among its primary demographic, females age 12-44, with less than 43% of users age 12-17 (down from 54% in 2011) and about 36% of users 25-44 (down from 40% in 2011) reporting playing on a weekly basis.

Internet Gaming On The Horizon For NJ, Lawmaker Says

Internet gaming could be a reality in New Jersey before the end of the year, eventually providing Atlantic City's casinos with a much-needed influx of revenue, a state senator sponsoring such legislation told a roomful of attorneys Wednesday.

Overexposed? Thanks to SceneTap, San Francisco bars are now profiling you

SceneTap is a maker of cameras that pick up on facial characteristics to determine a person's approximate age and gender. The company works with venues to install these cameras and track customers. It also makes web and mobile applications that allow random observers to find out, in real-time, the male-to-female ratio, crowd size, and average age of a bar's patrons. And no one goes unnoticed. "We represent EVERYONE in the venue," SceneTap proudly proclaims on its website.

Judge: An IP-Address Doesn't Identify a Person (or BitTorrent Pirate)

A landmark ruling in one of the many mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the US has delivered a severe blow to a thus far lucrative business. Among other things, New York Judge Gary Brown explains in great detail why an IP-address is not sufficient evidence to identify copyright infringers. According to the Judge this lack of specific evidence means that many alleged BitTorrent pirates have been wrongfully accused by copyright holders.

For Start-Up, Virtual Casinos

Andrew Pascal was one of Steve Wynn's trusted lieutenants when the Las Vegas magnate was rebuilding his gambling empire a decade ago. Now the former president of the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore casinos is the chief executive of a Silicon Valley gaming start-up aimed at running virtual casinos.


Viacom Gets a Second Bite at YouTube

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viacom.bmpIn one of the most closely followed cases involving the  digital millennium copyright act (DMCA), an appeals court punted one of the key issues back to the lower court. The key issue left open relates to what constitutes actual knowledge for purposes of the DMCA. In light of this decision there are some interim steps companies should take in the event that the lower court rules in favor of the copyright owner.  

On April 5th, 2012 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an order in the ongoing case Viacom International Inc. et al. v. YouTube Inc. et al., vacating a lower court's summary judgment in YouTube's favor and remanding the matter back to the district court for consideration of whether YouTube had actual knowledge of the infringement alleged by Viacom.  The underlying ruling by the district court in June of 2010 had granted summary judgment and found that YouTube was not liable to Viacom for copyright infringement relating to various videos that were available on its site due to the safe harbor language in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The current opinion by the Second Circuit based its decision in part on and referenced an internal YouTube report noting that clips of certain Viacom shows were available on the site, and that such content was "blatantly illegal".  The Second Circuit's opinion stated that "[o]n these facts, a reasonable juror could conclude that YouTube had actual knowledge of specific infringing activity, or was at least aware of facts or circumstances from which specific infringing activity was apparent".

Moreover, while the Second Circuit agreed with underlying district court's decision that only actual knowledge of specific and identifiable infringements bars a service provider from protection under the DMCA's safe harbor, it felt that the lower court erred by not addressing whether YouTube had engaged in "willful blindness".  The ruling directed the district court to consider if YouTube (1) made a "deliberate effort to avoid guilty knowledge," (2) had the ability to control the infringing activity, and (3) received a financial benefit from the infringing activity.

Ultimately, the Second Circuit opined that "we hold that summary judgment to YouTube on all clips-in-suit, especially in the absence of any detailed examination of the extensive record on summary judgment, was premature."  Given the online technology industry-wide reliance on the protections available under the DMCA, this case will continue to be one to watch.  Its impact could be far-reaching whichever way it is finally decided.   

Given the uncertainty regarding how this case will ultimately be decided, companies hosting user posted content should take reasonable steps to minimize any liability in the event the decision ultimately favors copyright owners. Contact us for more insights on how to do this.


Real People in Video Games: 1st Amendment vs. Right of Publicity

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As a general rule, the name, image or likeness of a living person--not necessarily just a celebrity--cannot be used for commercial purpose without his/her written consent. Some jurisdictions have extended the coverage to provide additional protection to such elements as signature, voice, mannerisms or even expressions. Unauthorized use of an individual's name, likeness or image may violate his/her right of publicity, which is currently recognized by statute, common law, or a combination of both in 31 states.1

However, as each state's law evolved separately, there are often significant differences in the coverage provided. Specifically, New York and California, the key states for rights of publicity due to their many celebrity residents, protect different rights and are diametrically opposed on whether these rights extend beyond death.

In the past few years we have seen a paradigm shift in the technology used to create video games. The current video game iterations allow for nearly photo-realistic imagery and, in some cases, use this to allegedly depict real people in the games. However, not all of these video games have entered into licensing arrangements with the parties allegedly depicted. From this we have witnessed the commencement of a new body of case law involving right of publicity claims against video game makers. The video game companies have countered the claims by alleging, among other things, that video games are creative works and protected by the First Amendment.

To learn more about this emerging issue, please click HERE.

Think Before You Pin

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Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media sites. Pinterest enables users
to "pin" interesting things to a virtual pinboard to share with others. A pinboard is largely a collection of images organized by topic (home decorating, wedding planning, etc.).

A recent article calls into question the potential risks that users face by "pinning" third party content. As pointed out in the article:

YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT, TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, THE ENTIRE RISK ARISING OUT OF YOUR ACCESS TO AND USE OF THE SITE, APPLICATION, SERVICES AND SITE CONTENT REMAINS WITH YOU.

Additionally, Pinterest wants you to indemnify them if your posts create a liability for them.

You agree to defend, indemnify, and hold Cold Brew Labs, its officers, directors, employees and agents, harmless from and against any claims, liabilities, damages, losses, and expenses, including, without limitation, reasonable legal and accounting fees, arising out of or in any way connected with (i) your access to or use of the Site, Application, Services or Site Content, (ii) your Member Content, or (iii) your violation of these Terms.

Sites hosting user uploaded content can shield themselves from liability by leveraging the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Does this leave users holding the bag if there is infringement?



In the Game World Imitation is Not Flattery - Its Infringement

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The number of lawsuits alleging copying of games continues to increase. In one of the latest such lawsuits, Seattle-based game developer Spry Fox filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against 6waves Lolapps over Spry Fox's Triple Town game. What exacerbated the issues here is that, apparently, Spry Fox shared information about the game under an NDA, prior to release of the game, when the parties were considering a business relationship.

Even giants like Zynga have been accused of liberally borrowing ideas for its games. NimbleBit, developer of the popular iOS game Tiny Tower, has pointed out the many similarities between their hit and Zynga's upcoming Dream Heights game. NimbleBit recently sent an open letter addressed to all of Zynga's 2,789 employees that points out the numerous similarities in the games, offering eight screen shots that show virtually identical features with only slight graphical differences.

These, and other suits that follow these fact patterns, highlight the need for game developers to take certain steps to protect their IP and minimize the need for lawsuits while maximizing the chances of prevailing if they must sue:
  • Consistently use NDAs that prevent the disclosure or use of confidential information that you disclose to third parties, and try to include a provision that gives you ownership of any IP derived from the confidential information. Many NDAs do not include this.
  • Maximize your IP protection with a comprehensive IP strategy that includes patents, trademarks and copyrights. Many game developers have misconceptions about what is protectable and therefore inadvertently forgo certain protection to which they might otherwise be entitled.
For additional information on IP Protection Strategies for games see Pillsbury's Advisory on IP Protection for Games.
 

The Clones Wars: Zynga Uses Copyright to Protect its Games

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On December 6, 2011 Zynga settled its copyright suits against Vostu USA Inc. and others.  The first suit, case number 5:11-cv-02959, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California back in June, alleged that several of Vostu's games infringed Zynga's copyrights.  Specifically, Zynga had alleged, that Vostu's MegaCity, Cafe Mania, Pet Mania, Vostu Poker and MiniRazenda games are merely clones of Zynga's popular titles.  Zynga followed this suit with another one in Brazil claiming copyright infringement and unfair competition.  Vostu initially responded to the suits asserting that its games were non-infringing but has ultimately agreed to settle the US and Brazilian matters by compensating Zynga and altering some of its games.

The parties have issued a joint statement that "Zynga and Vostu have settled the copyright lawsuits and counterclaims against each other in the United States and Brazil".  Additionally, "[a]s part of the settlement, Vostu made a monetary payment to Zynga and made some changes to four of its games" but the parties did not elaborate on the amount of the payment or the nature of the changes.

This settlement followed (and may have been prompted by) some early success in the cases by Zynga.  Zynga was able to obtain a preliminary injunction from the Brazilian court ordering Vostu to cease making the challenged games available.  In response Vostu initially convinced a U.S. District Judge to grant a temporary restraining order prohibiting Zynga from enforcing the Brazilian court's order; however this TRO was quickly dissolved.  The Brazilian order was stayed by the appeals court pending Vostu's appeal.

This settlement is a good example of how IP rights can be used to protect a video game from being cloned.  There is a history of successful games being the subject of imitation which goes back to the earliest days of the industry.  Many companies have come to believe that cloning is just part of business and there is nothing that can be done to stop it.  However, this is not entirety true.  Copyright, trademark, trade secrets and patent rights can all provide differing levels of protection for games.  Copyright can protect a game from literal duplication or use of its protected images, code, literary elements, music, etc.  Trademark can protect the actual name, logo or certain other identifying elements from a competitor's potentially confusing use in a game (or elsewhere).  Additionally, trade secrets can be used to protect a company or game's "secret sauce" from being co-opted.  Finally, patents may be used to protect features and functions of a game, including game mechanics, business methods and other functionality and processes. 

Game companies should consult with IP attorneys who understand the IP strategies and patentable aspects for games. For an overview of some of the IP protection available for games, see here.

Supreme Court Inaction a Win for Software Companies

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The Supreme Court has validated the ability of software developers to prevent customers from owning the copy of software they acquire. Because software developers can limit the customers rights to a mere license, they can impose restrictions that can prevent the customer from reselling the software. This is a huge win for software companies as it limits the resale market, which cuts into sales of new software. This ruling may also benefit the virtual goods industry which also commonly uses a licensing vs. sale model. However, it is important to note that in order to get the benefits of this decision, the software distributor must carefully craft their End User License Agreement.

On October 3, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court declined the petition for certiorari regarding the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc. As we outlined in a previous post, the Vernor decision held that software developers can grant mere licenses and that doing so does not violate the First Sale Doctrine," which states:

"[T]he owner of a particular copy...lawfully made under this title...is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy..."

This doctrine applies if the initial distribution is a sale. As the Ninth Circuit held in Vernor, software developers can legally prevent customers from owning (and distributing) the copies of software that they purchase. This is accomplished by drafting software purchase agreements (e.g., End User License Agreements) in a way to avoid the first-sale doctrine, such as by structuring the agreement as a license or placing valid restrictions on the customer's use of the software. Under such an agreement, software developers can retain ownership in the copies they distribute and customers merely have a license to use the software.

Extending the Vernor holding to virtual goods and currency, this ruling seems to provide additional ammunition for the validity of merely licensing virtual items to users instead of selling the items. This approach is commonly used with virtual item models.  In light of Vernor, it is clear that the "license" which is included in the terms of service must be carefully drafted.  But if done properly, this can help prevent unauthorized resale of virtual items via secondary markets or otherwise.

For more information on the legal issues with virtual goods, click here.

Event Alert: PLI's "Technotainment"

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Who:
Pillsbury's Cydney Tune and Mark Litvack

What:
PLI's Technology and Entertainment Convergence 2011: Hot Business and Legal Issues in "Technotainment"

When:
September 9, 2011 (New York) & September 21, 2011 (San Francisco)

Links:
New York - http://www.pli.edu/re.aspx?pk=29651&t=HCF1_1TECH
San Francisco -
http://www.pli.edu/re.aspx?pk=29652&t=HCF1_1TECH

Details:
PLI has completely revised this year's program to include today's major legal and business issues in the convergence of entertainment and technology.  The program brings together a faculty of experienced in-house lawyers, law firm attorneys and senior business executives on the cutting edge of this burgeoning practice.

Cydney Tune, Chair of this year's program, will be speaking on a panel titled "Licensing Film and Television Content for New Media and Platforms." In this presentation, the points of view of various stakeholders in the digital film and television content industry (content owners, distributors, platform providers) will be discussed. The panel will also address various digital video distribution models (e.g., transactional video-on-demand, subscription video-on-demand, free/ad-supported video-on-demand, and electronic sell-through) and the careful attention to deal structuring necessary to achieve an integrated, cross-platform model of sales and distribution that maximizes exploitation across all possible avenues.

Mark Litvack will be speaking on a panel titled "An Update On Social Media and Copyright - Is Anyone Winning This Race?" Social media (also known as participatory media, or user generated content) presents challenges for platform provider, copyright owners, brand holders, and users alike. In this presentation, the panel will address the legal obligations on these stakeholders, trends and practices in DMCA notice-and-takedown and Terms of Service enforcement and attempt to answer the question are content owners simply continuing to play a must-lose game of "Whack-a-Mole." The panel will also cover some of the innovative, voluntary efforts that build atop these obligations, including Content ID on YouTube including its "Copyright School" and Google's recent antipiracy initiatives and discuss the balance of the question about what the social media sites have done against what more they have left to do.




DMCA Thwarts Defendants Game of Hide-and-Seek

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The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 512 provides many benefits to copyright holders. Add one more to the list. In Xcentric Ventures LLC v. Karsen Limited et al (2011), the court refused the let the Russian Defendant play hide-and-seek to avoid service of process and authorized the Plaintiff to effect service by email due to a provision in the DMCA.

Plaintiff XCENTRIC VENTURES is the operator of a consumer complaint website. It discovered that a website owned and operated by defendant allegedly contains certain copyrighted material. Pursuant to the DMCA, it sent a series of DMCA take-down notices to non-party Google, Inc. to remove the infringing content from its search index and inform defendant that it is infringing on plaintiff's copyrights. Google complied. Pursuant to the DMCA, defendant responded by serving a counter-notice on Google to contest the accuracy of the initial notice. To be effective, the counter-notice must contain certain things including: "the subscriber's name, address, and telephone number, and a statement that the subscriber consents to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court . . . and that the subscriber will accept service of process from the person who provided notification under subsection (c)(1)(C) or an agent of such person." § 512(g)(3)(D).

Plaintiff filed a suit alleging copyright and trademark infringement. See § 512(g)(2)(C) (stating that unless a party files an action seeking a court order to prohibit the infringing activity, the service provider can restore the removed material). Plaintiff attempted to serve defendant a copy of the summons and complaint via Federal Express delivery to the address provided in St. Petersburg, Russia and via email. Delivery at the Russian address was unsuccessful because the address was "incorrect" according to FedEx. On June 13, 2011, defendant emailed plaintiff in response to plaintiff's emailed service of process. Defendant generally objected to the lawsuit and included a response, which it asked plaintiff to file with the court. In a later email correspondence, defendant argued that it never waived service of process and any service must be in compliance with the Hague Service Convention.

Plaintiff moved for an order determining whether it has effectively accomplished service of process on defendant Karsen or for leave to perform alternative service. Defendants did not respond or otherwise appear in the case.

The court found:

It is clear to the court that defendant has notice of the lawsuit and is evading service of process. By filing the counter-notice, defendant expressly agreed to accept service of process at its Russian address. Plaintiff attempted to perform service there but was unsuccessful. Defendant also purports not to understand the English language or the American court system, yet it corresponds sufficiently in English and appears capable of drafting a responsive pleading, as evidenced by the response it emailed plaintiff. Plaintiff has made other diligent, but unsuccessful, efforts to locate an alternative mailing address. In the absence of a correct address, plaintiff cannot personally serve defendant in Russia. It seems the only medium effective at reaching defendant is email.

We cannot, however, find that plaintiff has already accomplished service of process. While defendant did agree to accept service of process when it filed the counter-notice, plaintiff was unsuccessful in serving defendant by conventional means at its Russian address. [*3] Service by alternative methods, such as email, is only effective after court approval. See Rio Props., Inc. v. Rio Int'l. Interlink, 284 F.3d 1007, 1018 (9th Cir. 2002) (stating that email service is not available absent a Fed R. Civ. P. 4(f)(3) court decree); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(h)(2) (authorizing service of process on a foreign business in the manner prescribed by Rule 4(f)).

The court granted plaintiffs leave to serve defendant via email, stating "Service by email in circumstances where the defendant is evading service of process and it is the only method reasonably calculated to appraise defendant of the pendency of the action is permissible. See Rio Props., 284 F.3d at 1017 (approving an order granting leave to serve by email under similar circumstances); see also Liberty Media Holdings, LLC v. Vingay.com, No. CV-11-0280-PHX-LOA, 2011 WL 810250 (D. Ariz. March 3, 2011) (permitting service by email). Moreover, alternative methods of service in Russia, even those not required under the Hague Service Convention, are permissible, since Russia unilaterally suspended all judicial cooperation with the United States in 2003. See Nuance Commc'ns., Inc. v. Abby Software, 626 F.3d 1222, 1237-38 (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that a district court erred in requiring service upon a Russian corporation to be in compliance with the Hague Service Convention). As the Ninth Circuit stated, "when faced with an international e-business scofflaw, playing hide-and-seek with the federal court, email may be the only means of effecting service of process." Rio Props., 284 F.3d at 1018.

Did Zynga Create the Farm(ville)...or Steal It?

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A recent lawsuit by SocialApps LLC (d/b/a take(5) social and playSocial) accuses Zynga of copyright infringement, theft of trade secret and various other acts concerning Farmville. Farmville is one of the most widely played and profitable social games, with around 80 million users and was released in June 2009. SocialApps allegedly developed and released "myFarm" in November 2008.

Did Zynga independently create Farmville or, as SocialApps alleges, did Zynga approach SocialApps using a ruse of due diligence in an attempt to acquire the IP rights and source code to get access to the details of myFarm? Perhaps we will learn the answer as the suit progresses.

If SocialApps did indeed invent the game earlier, did they do all they could to protect the IP? Many companies in the online social game space do not. For an overview of some of the ways that social game companies can protect their IP, see our advisory on "Intellectual Property for Games" as well as our previous post entitled "What You Don't Know About IP Protection For Social Games Can Hurt You".

What You Don't Know About IP Protection For Social Games Can Hurt You

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Copying within the games industry is prevalent. Some people attribute this to the fact that this is just the way it is and has always been within the industry. This is often premised on the notion that the "idea" for a game is not protectable. But as the game market grows, so to do the losses from copying suffered by the game innovators.

One of the biggest factors contributing to this is that many game developers do not develop comprehensive strategies for protecting the valuable intellectual property that they create. This is generally due to several reasons. One is that historically, intellectual property has just not been a big focus for many in the industry. The other is that many people are not aware of the range of options available for protecting IP in the game space and what aspects of games are protectable. This is often due to some common misunderstandings about intellectual property, particularly with respect to the patentability of game features.

While it is true that one can not protect the "idea" for a game, this does not end the inquiry. Many aspects of games are protectable by patents, copyright and trademarks. Of these, patents are probably the most overlooked and least understood. While this applies to all types of games, there are particularly compelling opportunities to patent many of the innovative aspects of social and online games. This is due in part to the many recent developments in the relevant technology and business models for these games. Prudent developers and publishers will seize these opportunities to develop a comprehensive IP protection strategy.

Check out our recently released "Intellectual Property for Games" brochure that summarizes some common patent misconceptions and the importance of a strong IP Protection Strategy.

Social Media for Nonprofits: Leveraging the Opportunities and Avoiding the Legal Pitfalls

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Many nonprofits are using social media to create awareness of their cause, raise funds, develop closer connections with existing constituents and engage with new ones.

On April 14, 2011, at The Kreeger Museum in Washington, DC, Jim Gatto delivered a compelling presentation on top social media legal issues targeted to nonprofits. His presentation explored examples of how nonprofits are using social media today, including a focus on virtual goods, virtual currencies and gamification and the associated legal issues. For a copy of his presentation, please click here.

Restaurant, Food & Beverage Legal Briefing Series: Top Social Media Legal Issues

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Leveraging social media technologies and applications is critical to the success of any marketing campaign, consumer outreach program or research plan.

Social media tools can be used to shed light on your target market and consumer decision making process. These tools can also be used to engage in a two-way conversation with your consumers and allows customers to communicate your messaging on your behalf. Restaurants are ahead of the curve:  81% are currently using social media, compared with 60% in other industries. Companies in these industries cannot ignore the powerful impact of social media. Companies in this space also face a host of new legal risks and concerns from virtually all sides. The key to success is staying on top of these laws and emerging trends.

On March 22, 2011, Jim Gatto delivered an exciting webinar presentation on top social media legal issues targeted to the restaurant, food and beverage industries. For a copy of his presentation, please click RFB Legal Briefing Series.pdf.