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NZGDC14: Edwin Lim

Lawyer, NZGDA committee member and one of those contributing to the prize package for the inaugural Kiwi Game Starter pitch competition, Hudson Gavin Martin’s Edwin Lim gave aspiring game developers an overview of things to consider before it’s too late.

First up wasn’t so much legal advice as common sense.

“We see a lot of stuff that looks the same as the last one,” said Lim. So, as there are many ways to skin a cat, try not to use the same one everyone else has. Or, as Dave Brevik put it in his opening keynote, “Build something different.”

When you’ve got an idea that you think is different enough to what else is out there to pursue, use confidentiality agreements to keep it that way.

The number one thing is to ensure you have ownership of the IP or, if there’s third party IP involved, make sure you have the rights to use any material subject to IP, such as a font, graphic, musical composition or arrangement…

“We’re acting for 8 Mile against the National Party,” Lim added.

When creating branding for an app Lim recommended registering a trade mark or logo with the
Trade Mark ( ™ ), which can be registered through IPONZ. Other specific assets can also be protected by marks and copyrights ( © ), Lim noted, sharing that his company had acted for Tauranga-based developer Flightless when several of the assets of their game Bee Leader had been ripped off by the makers of Flappy Bee.

On the subject of trade marks, Lim noted that they were territorial, and needed to be registered in different territories. One thing they couldn’t be was descriptive, so a computer company can call itself called apple, but a fruit company can’t.

Just as practically, he suggested setting up a limited liability company, because a limited liability company has, you know, limited liability. Which an individual doesn’t.

The technical and platform considerations varied considerably, Lim said, depending on what exactly your ap was intended for. But he did highlight a few traps for young players, such as:

  • make sure you can comply with a platforms terms and conditions
  • make sure to pass on any commitments you make to your app’s users via your End Users Licence Agreement
  • make sure any warranties you provide meet legal minimum requirements
  • comply with legislation – which in NZ could include the Fair Trading Act, Consumer Guarantees Act, Privacy Act, Gambling Act … among others

  • and – if your app is destined for iTunes – make sure you comply with Apple’s terms, which include that your game isn’t capable of developing a nuclear or biological weapon.

Good to know.

For practical assistance and know-how Lim recommended himself, naturally enough, and also Flying Kiwi Angels at Auckland’s Biz Dojo.

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