- Trademarks are an indicator of origin and must be registered to be effective.
- Trademarks can be sold or licensed and can gain significant commercial value.
- Think carefully about registering and monetising your trademarks, including obtaining legal advice.
Trademarks operate as an indicator of origin distinguishing your goods from others. They have to be registered as trademarks to be protected and usually each country has its own registrar. All the big names in videogames will be registered as trademarks, think SEGA, Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. This is usually reflected by the distinct circled “r” present next to these names.
Trademarks can typically be used to protect your game logo, name or trading name from being used. In the event there is a similar mark or logo in use and there is a likelihood of confusion between the two you can bring an action to prevent trademark infringement. Similarly, if there is a similar trademark already registered you are at risk of infringing that mark.
You can sell or license the right to use a trademark. If you are a well known developer your trademarked name might be worth a lot in relation to the games you make. Contracting clearly will allow you to to clarify who owns your mark and how it can be used – say on box art or promotional materials.
In the UK registration of a trademark usually lasts 10 years renews upon payment of a fee. The UK Intellectual Property Office has a searchable register of all trademarks which you can check.