ITMA spring conference: Gamers more than just ‘spotty little guys’


Intellectual property lawyers should be better prepared for the effect of apps on the games industry, and gamers are more than just “spotty little guys”, an industry conference has heard.

Speaking at the Institute of Trademark Attorneys’ (ITMA) spring conference in London, Dominic Farnsworth, partner at law firm Lewis Silkin, said lawyers should have a “greater awareness” of the number of IP issues involved in the games industry.

The centre of his concern was the growth in the market for gaming apps on mobile phones.

Farnsworth said: “Apps caused a seismic change in the game market.”

Candy Crush, a mobile puzzle game, was the most downloaded app in the world in 2013, ahead of Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Farnsworth said: “App makers are able to take bigger risks with not obtaining licences, because it’s so cheap to make an app. And when it is taken down after a couple of weeks, the app maker can make a lot of money infringing existing IP.

“Some creators don’t care about infringing IP, or they don’t understand IP law. The take-down of an app is pretty quick, but in that time they can make a lot of money,” he added.

He cited a dispute between singer Lady Gaga and Mind Candy, the developer of the Moshi Monsters online game, over a game featuring a character called ‘Lady Goo Goo’ and a song the company released online in her name.

Lady Gaga was granted an injunction at the English High Court in 2011 that prevented the song from being sold online.

As the global gaming industry is estimated to exceed $100 billion in 2017, Farnsworth said, lawyers should recognise that it is comparable to the film industry.

“Games and film should be seen as similar industries. Both operate on a franchise model, where you build brands over time,” he said.

“The typical gamer is more than just a spotty little guy in his room with the curtains down. This image is wrong. 69% of people in the UK played a game in the last year,” he concluded.

The ITMA spring conference runs from March 19 to 20.

This story was first reported on WIPR

games; Apps; IP infringement; Dominic Farnsworth; ITMA

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