How should I protect myself from intellectual property theft before I pitch this game to Scopely?


(For the impatient, the main question is at the bottom of this text.)

I was reading this article and a couple of others about Scopely, a game development company responsible for the creation of the "With Buddies" series of games on the iPhone App Store. This company is composed of some of the elite in the technology, game development, and social media worlds. They've got some of the most powerful investors behind them. Well, 6 days ago, they started a program called "LevelUp" which, as I understand it, partners with indie game developers--like myself--to develop and launch mobile games.

For the past year and a half or so, I've been developing a turn-based, social game that I truly believe would do particularly well on the iPhone and iPad, as it fits Scopely's "With Buddies" model and fills a hole in the game market. Without saying too much, being a (self-proclaimed) expert and fan of this type of game, I can say with confidence that it has the possibility of selling millions of copies, as well as a ton of in-app purchases.

I haven't copyrighted any of my work, I haven't incorporated--or even obtained a business license, for that matter--as I'm still at least a few months away from completion of this game. I don't have a ton of resources at my disposal, so I wouldn't be able to hire a consultant (a copyright/corporate attorney?) unless he/she were willing to waive his retainer and fees, if the communication with Scopely doesn't yield anything. I wish it were just as simple as, "Hey, guys. I'm working on a game I'd like you to release. Here's the premise, here are some screenshots. What do you think?"

Now, I work in the legal field, but I do not deal with copyright or corporate law of any kind. I'm looking for something a little more in-depth than just, "Get a copyright."

My question is: What is the least I should do in preparation for any kind of communication with Scopely about this game? What should I do, ideally, to protect myself? Thanks in advance.

Copyright Investors Intellectual Property

asked Dec 19 '12 at 10:15
3 points
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  • Don't be naive, and don't get brainsucked. If you've got something that can ultimately sell millions of copies, why not continue on your own? If you need an investor or technical staff, you can always get that. – Frenchie 11 years ago
  • "If you've got something that can ultimately sell millions of copies, why not continue on your own?" In simple terms? Cross-promotion. Because the first game Scopely released under this new LevelUp project, Bubble Galaxy with Buddies, reached number one on the App Store within 5 hours of its release. What's more, if accepted into the program, I would be working alongside some of the best-equipped people in the business to propel sales of this app into the stratosphere. – Baptzmoffire 11 years ago
  • Also, I have my reasons for considering this option. While I realize that the way I wrote the OP seemed to indicate that I had my mind made up about this, I would never jump into a situation head-first without having a plan of attack and making sure I was as protected as I possibly could be. Obviously. – Baptzmoffire 11 years ago
  • The thing is, you can't protect your IP: contracts and NDA don't offer the kind of protection you're looking for. So to answer your question, there's nothing you can do. While I'm sure a successful partnership would be beneficial to you, if you end up not being selected but they like your idea, your idea will be taken. – Frenchie 11 years ago

1 Answer


You need to pay attention there is no copyright on how a game be played. That's why we saw so many games with similar concepts.

Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form.

Read more here: I'm not a lawyer, but I think some kinds of NDA may be able to protect you to some extent as your game is not public yet. I suggest you do consult a lawyer for such issue.
answered Dec 19 '12 at 11:12
Billy Chan
1,179 points

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