Greetings. Hi. You look great today. Thanks for stopping by. This is part three of our four-part blog series on how to make a drinking game, party game, or absolutely any game. We broke it into ten steps, and so far we’ve covered six of them.
Part One, which took you through the first four steps, from your idea to graphic design, can be found here. In Part Two we went on a deep dive into drinking game (or any game) manufacturing and manufacturing prep. Part Two can be found here.
Part Three below is but one step. Step seven. It is going to be all about the legal minutiae: trademarking, manufacturing agreements and the like, and finally, importantly, the legal aspects of packaging for your product (read: markings on your game box).
IMPORTANT NOTE: We are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice. This is simply us giving personal opinions and speaking on our personal experience. Contact your lawyer and use lawyers for all legal matters. Use common sense.
Let’s get into it.
Step Seven: Getting Legal Wit It
There are a couple of options you have in the legal realm, like trademark applications and extra manufacturing agreements, and some things that are necessary, like some of the labels on your game box.
Let’s start with trademarking.
By now people are testing your glorious booze game and loving it. The graphic design is starting to fall into place. You’re pretty sure you’ve got the right manufacturer to work with. You know it’s gonna be awesome… So, maybe, just maybe, you start getting nervous. You’ve put so much time in. What if someone steals your ideas? What if someone steals your logo? What if what if what if… So, you think about applying for trademarks. Protecting your name and your logo.
In our opinion, when it comes to trademarking before you’ve published, it’s not necessary. Save your money for marketing (we’ll get to that in Part Three), and trademark everything officially later when your game picks up steam. Why? First, lawyers are expensive. Second, the minute your game is released it is protected to a reasonable degree under international copyright law, regardless of trademark filings. Thirdly, there are better uses for that money at the point you’re at… if your game tanks, who’s going to want to steal it anyway? So, certainly jump through all the copyright and trademark hoops eventually, but just do it after your game becomes successful. It will also be a lot easier to pass through potential hurdles trademarking if you have proof of sales and public reputation.
Our trademarked logo.
But what other legal things should you consider?
The next legal aspect worth mentioning concerns your dealings with your manufacturer. Because we were/are paranoid, believed so highly in the quality and future of our product, and because the reality is China (in general) does have a somewhat shady history with intellectual property theft and so on, we wanted our deals to be as iron-clad as we could make them, and to have at least a reasonable degree of security and certainty. So, we wanted signed manufacturing documentation, and signed non-disclosure documentation. Again, we are not lawyers, and this isn’t advice, we’re just sharing our experience and some options with you.
The thing is, the Chinese legal system is different from the west, and works more on its own. If you bring forward a normal English language NDA or something like that, it’s not going to cut it there. It won’t be upheld in court and so is a waste of your time. If you want to take steps to protect yourself over there, you’ll need a Chinese NNN (Non-Disclosure, Non-Compete, Non-Circumvent) agreement, and a Chinese ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) agreement – both preferably done by a Chinese lawyer with official translations into English on the documents for your benefit. This will cost you a chunk of change, but for us it was worth it for peace of mind. Was it necessary? Did it really matter? Strongly doubt it!!! These are reputable companies that we recommended (link). But having a manufacturer willing to sign any documents to assuage our fears was also a good reflection on them and their professionalism for us. Just a personal choice.
To be transparent, originally we were going to work with LongPack but we had some disagreements over this particular documentation – they wanted the fine for intellectual property theft to be miniscule, and we did not agree that this was a sufficient deterrent. It became a sticking point and we eventually moved on because of it. At the end of the day, they are a very reputable company and we’re sure we would have had no problems, but we consulted our lawyer who drew up the forms and decided to look elsewhere. BangWee had no problem signing the exact same documentation.
Ok, so optional stuff aside, what do you actually need to do legally?
You need to make sure that your game can be sold and that it has any necessary legal markings on the packaging. Again, we’re not lawyers, and this is not actual legal advice, just our experience. So here we go, game box requirements:
- Start with a barcode. There are lots of sites you can purchase barcodes off, but I’d recommend just going right to the source and signing up with GS1 and getting one there. GS1 are the international regulating body for barcodes, so if you go to another site and get a fake, you’re in trouble. It’s not too expensive. You could start by having a look here: https://www.gs1.org/standards/barcodes
- Place where game is manufactured. This is the “Made In ____” sign (e.g Made In China).
- TM symbol. Use the TM symbol next to any logo or prominent mention of your game name. If you have already registered the trademark in all countries where you are going to sell it, then use the R symbol instead.
- If there are any small parts, and if you’re game is going to be played by children, you’ll need a choking hazard sign. This is important. If it’s an adult game like a drinking game or adult party game though, you should be ok. Our game clearly says 18+ at the lowest age, and has a legal warning on it, as well as containing no small parts to begin with, so it wasn’t strictly necessary.
- If you’re planning to sell around Europe, you’ll need a CE sign. More on that here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ce-marking
- You should include some sort of contact information for yourself. At least a website, if not a physical address as well. Throw on your social medias for good measure.
- Though not strictly legally necessary, it’s good practice to have the logo or title, how many players are required, time required, and what ages the game is for displayed on the top and all sides of the box except the back. This means any way the box is stacked, all the good stuff is showing.
- Consider any brief legal warnings that might be necessary. Because The BoozeGames is primarily a drinking game (though it can be any sort of game you want it to be, baby), we put on a quick and true legal disclaimer written by our lawyers on the box, and a larger one on the first page of the instructions.
The beast itself. Note the markings and warnings at the bottom of the box.
Here’s a couple more resources to check out for your game box marking needs: here and here. Check them out, do your google research, check out the game boxes of similar games to yours, communicate with your manufacturer about requirements and best practice, and you’ll be totally fine!
And that’s legal stuff dusted, as far as we can remember. At this point once you’ve executed on all this, you’re basically at the point where you can prep your final files and send them to the manufacturer.
What happens next is they will make you a single prototype and send it to you to check. If you confirm this, the mass printing begins! Try to make sure they send you a prototype printed from their actual machines, not a prototype machine (but also, good luck with that).
Once you’ve confirmed the prototype, you’ll have to start the process of figuring out how to get all these printed copies from your manufacturer to your customer. We’ll cover all this in part four, coming soon…
P.S Questions? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime and we'll delegate our best intoxicated ape to respond to you ASAP.