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Crowd Funding and Crowd Generated Ideas

Oct 30, 2014

Giving people what they really want has never been easier, with crowdfunding now covering a whole variety of creative projects. Naturally, projects also involve game (and to a lesser extent, app) development, with (at the time of writing) Kickstarter alone listing over 10,000 game related projects that have been launched.

Alongside crowd funding websites, there are also idea generating websites. If you’ve got an idea for an app or a game but don’t know what to do, websites can put you in touch with entrepreneurs, investors or even developers looking for the next big thing. But what can you do to protect your idea? After all, your idea may simply be something you’ve jotted down or thought about on the tube ride home. There are no designs, prototypes or demos available, which makes it harder to protect.

Ideas don’t tend to attract intellectual property rights, making them difficult to protect. This means that if you disclose your idea without a confidentiality agreement in place, you leave yourself more open to the risk of someone taking your idea and developing it separately. To succeed in the games or apps industry, innovation is key, so before disclosing your idea, you want to be in the strongest position possible to hit the ground running once you’ve received the required funding, or met the right people to take your idea forward.

When advising individuals looking to develop an idea, the general rule is “need to know”. Disclose as little as possible and put a confidentiality agreement in place. If you’ve got an idea for a game or an app, and you want to discuss it with an investor, a developer or a contractor for example, you’ll want to make sure they sign your confidentiality agreement. You can then speak a little more freely about your idea.

The rules change when your investors are crowd-funders over a website. Signing a confidentiality agreement with all 40,000 backers just isn’t going to be possible (not to mention the millions browsing the site). The more secretive you are and the less information you provide, the less likely you’ll be able to attract enough investment. However, by expanding on your idea, such as developing a demo for your game, producing some concept art, creating designs or developing characters that will feature in your game will help attract intellectual property rights.

Even if you just have an idea, there are things you can do to try and avoid it falling into the wrong hands. People don’t always need to know everything about your idea. A brief description doesn’t mean you have to include particular aspects, characters or functionality about your game or app, although disclosing such details will probably help attract more investment. Ultimately, it’s a delicate balancing act. However, when it comes to meeting investors or other third parties interested in developing your idea in person, a confidentiality agreement may then be appropriate.

Got an idea that needs protecting? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with anyone in the commercial contracts team on 020 7234 0200, or e-mail contact@waterfront.law.