Bringing a toy or game to market or developing this year’s hottest item is not just a technical and marketing challenge, but involves complex legal issues that are often more specialized than those arising in other forms of product development and manufacturing.
Protection of Intellectual Property
Intellectual property protection in the toy and game industry is distinct from that in other industries. Many toys, and unique gameplay, are often poorly suited to patent protection, even if it might seem the most logical legal method to prevent imitations. Further, the short lifetime of many products in the industry can largely negate the value of patent protection. Nonetheless, valuable properties in this domain can be protected using trademarks and copyrights, and in some instances patent protection as well. Lewis Rice attorneys have enabled clients in the toy and game industry to obtain copyright registrations, trademark registrations, and patents. We have worked on diverse technologies such as building blocks, stuffed animals, traditional board games, and video games. Lewis Rice attorneys understand the challenges faced in protecting toys and games and in making sure that the protection is enforceable.
Licensing and Sale
Many toy and game developers reach a point where they no longer wish to manufacture or distribute a property of theirs and wish to find another to keep the product or product line alive. Licensing or sale of toy and game properties can present its own challenges. Often, a developer is a smaller player in the industry but would like to work with a company with a household name. A developer that has limited negotiation experience stands to benefit even more from having legal counsel that understands what the party needs out of the transaction and can protect its interest regarding both the product as it is now, and what it may become. Lewis Rice attorneys have negotiated agreements with and for major players in the industry and understand many of the issues that are faced by both parties in these transactions. We can help you transition a property (or even the whole company) to the next stage in its life cycle. Further, we can help in bringing in licensed properties (even fictional characters and the like) that can be useful in marketing cross-branded products where one of them might even be outside the toy and game industry.
Working with any product whose primary market is children requires an acute awareness of the risks and potential for liability exposure due to its consumers' being particularly vulnerable. Legislation such as the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) and agencies such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) can present pitfalls to those who don’t know how to navigate the legal landscape that surrounds them. Lewis Rice attorneys have prepared and helped implement a wide variety of privacy, use, and risk protection legal structures for its clients. We are also skilled at advising on the pitfalls of social media marketing and on promotion using crowdfunding for toy or game presales.
We All Play Too
The Lewis Rice attorneys who work in the Toys, Games, Entertainment, and Sporting Goods Practice Group are not just skilled lawyers. Most are also avid gamers and toy enthusiasts or collectors. Many also organize and sponsor major local conventions and events and have taken an active interest in seeing new local games get developed and on the market. If you are looking for legal assistance with a toy or game product, you are invited to review the group attorneys’ individual pages to see just what they are involved in, to help you decide if someone might be a good fit for you.