How can I protect my game?
This question and the fear of idea theft are often in the foreground – especially for upcoming game authors. In general, it can be said that in our industry copyright infringements and so-called "idea theft" – at least in Europe – are very rare. Mostly it hits already published, popular games. However, from time to time advertising agencies ruthlessly deal with intellectual property rights when they take games on the market as a base for their customers' advertising games.
As protection for games counts the intellectual property right – based on the rules of the game. Unlike patents and other industrial property rights, intellectual property rights cannot be registered (at least in the most countries); they apply almost automatically, since they arise with creation. The precondition is the existence of a work perceptible to third parties, which shows a sufficient degree of originality (level of creation)... this is usually and predominantly shown in the rules of the game in games.
In our experience, the deposit of rules of the game with notaries, lawyers or in game archives is an unnecessary expenditure of money. It is sufficient to have a copy of the rules of the game (with name of the author) and, if necessary, a photo of the prototype signed by a reliable witness (friend) with date and to store these documents.
This indicates that the game was developed at the time specified. However, this is really only an indication. The friend can hardly testify to the creation by the author himself. However, this index can of course be supplemented by submitting various documents and files of the work versions. It is therefore worth keeping them.
The rules of the game should always include the name, contact details and the copyright sign @ with year to make the authorship clear. For personal presentations, we recommend using a presentation protocol that records the place, date, title, interviewee, interest and further steps, if any. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) are not common in our industry, and publishers refuse to accept them. However, some publishers – especially in the USA – use their own Confidentiality Agreements to protect themselves against unjustified accusations of plagiarism.