Home Forums Business and Legal How to resurrect an abandoned IP

  • This topic has 14 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated 13 years ago by Anonymous.
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    • #6840
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I want to remake an old game (Released 1989) at some stage. I want to use the full IP (name, character likeness etc) so a knock off won’t cut it.

      As far as I can tell Ubisoft or Eidos Interactive may now hold the rights. This is a game two people could knock out in under two months.

      Question is what would be your plan for making it and not getting sued? Create it and then show it to them and if they say no your screwed or start dialogue first.

    • #41723
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I want to remake an old game (Released 1989) at some stage. I want to use the full IP (name, character likeness etc) so a knock off won’t cut it.

      As far as I can tell Ubisoft or Eidos Interactive may now hold the rights. This is a game two people could knock out in under two months.

      Question is what would be your plan for making it and not getting sued? Create it and then show it to them and if they say no your screwed or start dialogue first.[/quote:3d3cc11698]

      Carmack and Id software tried to do this in the early days of Id. They made a pc version of super mario brothers and went to nintendo with it. Nintendo said nah we dont want it, you release it and we’ll sue you back to the stone age. So they went back re-vamped it and released commander keen.

      So in summary if they wanted a remake they’d do it themselves.

    • #41724
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Heard similar stories, but they never explain the business thinking.
      Ok Nintendo aren’t going to let someone play with their number one IP but I never get why a company would not want to make money from licensing an IP they are not using and I would imagine have no plans to. A 20 year old game game is finely threading the Nostalgia/obscurity line if not remade soon.

    • #41727
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      The business strategy is probably the problem. E.g. Nintendo may have a policy of never letting their core ip’s be developed by a 3rd party. Financially the timing may be incorrect, so they are not ready to pump more money into developing a campaign or they might have wanted someone else to do the game on cheaper terms (after all, a few months with a small team and it’s done). There’s also a human issue too, companies often don’t like someone else in control of their development, they might have had any infinite number of political reasons not to release that game and often companies are inflexible enough to take a good opportunity and run with it. In the case of Nintendo especially, the implementation may not be what they want. Any remake is going to involve a choice of artistic styles, feel, control and intent.

      Finally they are also obliged to give you an answer, even if they are not sure, because if they don’t, their ip rights are weakened by letting the game continue to exist if they don’t license it. So a no is the safe bet for anyone who isn’t directly responsible for generating profits – i.e. the intern who is tasked with pre-assessing pitches.

      So it’s a gamble from your point of view, but the worst that can happen is you get a no and the eye of sauran watching your "reimplementation" of the game as a new ip. You also have a good demo in your pocket. The best is you may very well get accepted as a means to a quick buck and you get cut a good deal – royalty rights are probably unlikely but worth having a shot at – and you become a brazillionaire.

    • #41728
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      and you become a brazillionaire.[/quote:9570dee8b2]
      A zillion bras from the girls who think I’m cool.
      Score!

    • #41729
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Was expecting a "Better tell your mom to start buying bras then" response. :)

      Yep "No" is always the easiest answer but I think your right that I should look at as a decent demo for the CV if I get stonewalled.

    • #41733
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      LoudHailer: Step away from the IP…

      or…

      Just call them and ask them. Maybe you’ll do a proof of concept? There’s a dozen ways to look at it.

      Why haven’t they revived it?

    • #41734
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Why haven’t they revived it?[/quote:f24730261d]
      I think with all the mergers and buy outs very few people in the company would even realise they owned the IP. But also it’s never going to be a AAA title and not something you would sell on the shelves so probably not worth the effort for a big company to divert any resources to it.

    • #41735
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Hi David, is it possible that the IP you want to remake is Abandon ware at this stage? So technically no one owns it?

      Probably a dumb question for the legal heads but if an IP is abandon ware can anyone do what they like with it?

    • #41736
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Hi Paul, yep a lot of sites have listed it as abandon ware.
      Download sites slip under the rug claiming they are an archive but "It is unlawful to distribute the old software and games" or so Wikipedia says.

      The rights to the software may have been bought by another company or have reverted to its original author. Tracing the paper trail could take awhile but I doubt it has been transferred to the public domain.

      That said I would like to hear a legal input if their are loopholes.

      Might start with the author if I can track him down as maybe he kept an eye on all the merges.

    • #41737
      Anonymous
      Inactive
    • #41738
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Abandonware is a dodgy topic, as some websites claim that its legal to post it now the company doesnt exist. Unfortunately, I dont think it is, theres been a few cases in the past i think.

    • #41742
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      If its an eidos product, they may not even have the money to sue you…

    • #41747
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Hi David, is it possible that the IP you want to remake is Abandon ware at this stage? So technically no one owns it?[/quote:5a7e88dec7]
      No it isn’t possible because this term has no basis in law. If the company is dead then the IP has reverted to the author or been bought as part of the assets by another company. Just because they aren’t currently exploiting it doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. Alternatively they may have made the decision that they don’t want it exploited….. or maybe they just forgot about it. – However, even in that last event, just being a fan doesn’t give you rights over someone else’s IP. As the company in question is Eidos, who are currently still alive you need to tread with caution. Like others I suggest you do that game but with a view to having to revamp all the art/story if Eidos refuse permission.

      As for why companies refuse permission? The simple answer is money. Big publishers like Eidos, EA, Ubi, Nintendo etc have large offices and staff and as such they cost a lot of money to run. That means that every project that gets approved must earn a minimum Return On Investment (ROI) – enough to pay its shares of the companies costs or else it isn’t worth doing. Every game involves Producers, Accountants, Manager and Lawyers, office costs etc…. it all adds up.

      So, unless the business case you propose is going to make them enough money to cover all those costs they will just say no. Because it is old it they may believe it wont generate a high enough return for them to publish it and they won’t license to a small indie because they couldn’t afford to pay enough to even cover the publisher’s legal costs.

      Some publishers do allow fan projects (the Kings Quest game mentioned earlier) but many don’t so be prepared for a rejection.

    • #41748
      Anonymous
      Inactive
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