January 29, 2016—Those of you who occasionally read my posts may have noticed that video games are a hobby and interest of mine. I have posted on issues involving video games several times. See Executing Noriega, Flash in the Panama, Calling All Gamers. And as I look back on it now, it appears that I, for a long time, had an unhealthy addiction to Call of Duty. (Never fear. I’ve moved on.) But despite my general gaming interest, I’ve never taken the time to sit down and post about some of the incredibly important and interesting intellectual property issues that accompany video game development and distribution.
There are very few industries that so intricately intertwine the multiple pillars of intellectual property as do video games. Indeed, its difficult to identify any other industries that depend so heavily upon copyright and patent and trademark and trade secret law. Video game development involves artistry, technological innovation, and an entrepreneurial spirit; and it requires large doses of each. Mobile gaming brought along an explosion of development and distribution. In an ever crowding field, I believe clearly defining and protecting the intellectual property rights associated with game development is going to be an increasingly important activity. It will be an important strategy issue for developers, and it will be an important issue for elected representatives and regulators in attempting to set the proper incentives for creation and access.
In a lot of ways, the game is just beginning.