Social Media & Games
James G. Gatto
A confluence of elements is radically transforming the way that people interact socially, the way businesses develop and maintain relationships, the power that individuals have to impact consumer and business decisions, and the value users add to the content of websites and other online services. A number of social media technologies and platforms are maturing simultaneously, creating a seismic shift in online social and commercial activity. Our Social Media & Games team is at the forefront of the legal issues for these companies. We are anticipating their business needs and concerns and are uniquely qualified to provide comprehensive advice to companies leveraging these trends.
These are some of the applications, technologies and business models, which are behind the social media revolution that is transforming the ways in which people interact and how business is being conducted, and some of the areas where we can leverage our in-depth knowledge to help uniquely serve clients:
Pillsbury's Social Media & Games Team
Pillsbury’s clients are leveraging these applications, technologies and business models in innovative and industry leading ways, often creating new or leveraging existing business models using social media applications and other interactive entertainment platforms. Our team includes more than 70 attorneys in offices around the world advising clients on the interplay between the business, legal and technological issues associated with social media, games and interactive entertainment. Our team was ranked in the top three in the country for video game law by Interactive Age.
We have advised leading companies in the social media, virtual world and game industries, as well as startups, traditional media and other companies, on matters including:
- Successfully assisted Playfish, a leading developer of social network games, in shutting down unauthorized secondary markets for its virtual goods and currency (Playfish was subsequently sold to Electronic Arts for more than $300 million in cash and stock)
- Represent Signia Venture Partners in its video game investments
- Advised Israel-based Qlipso on a pivotal acquisition of assets belonging to Veoh Networks, Inc., one of the Web's most popular video content and Internet television sites
- Represented IDG Ventures in the $20 million first round funding of mobile game developer Funzio, Inc. and in the sale of Funzio to GREE
- Advised A&E, Inc. on their launch of Roiworld, a virtual goods/currency-based social media platform
- Advised numerous clients on use of virtual goods, virtual currencies and virtual economies as a primary component of their business models
- We are the primary outside legal counsel to YetiZen, the leading accelerator in the game space. We also provide legal and business counsel to YetiZen accelerator participants
- Represented social games maker Idle Games on a variety of corporate and intellectual property legal matters
- Represented Beintoo, a mobile games monetization, engagement and loyalty platform on a variety of corporate and intellectual property legal matters
- Represented DreamHeart Inc., a mobile social games developer, on a variety of corporate and intellectual property legal matters
- Represented KamaGames, a mobile social games developer, on a variety of intellectual property legal matters
- Represented TheBroth, a Facebook games developer, on a variety of corporate and intellectual property legal matters
- Represented Raindrop Games, a mobile social games developer, on a variety of corporate and intellectual property legal matters
- Represented RivalMe, a trivia-based company, on a variety of corporate and intellectual property legal matters
- Assisted Breaktime Studios, Inc., an online and mobile social games development studio, with a variety of corporate and intellectual property legal issues
- Advised Square Enix, a video game publisher and distribution company, on the legality of virtual currency and gambling business models
- We worked with video game publisher Activision Blizzard on a variety of intellectual property matters, including product clearance, and multiple post grant proceeding matters that have helped Activision Blizzard protect its valuable IP rights
- Representing mobile, social and location-based augmented reality creator Augaroo on a variety of intellectual property and other issues, including a terms of service prepared for a new augmented reality game
- Successfully defended Iconfactory, a software and graphic design company, in a copyright infringement litigation involving allegations of cloning AstroNut mobile game
- Advised Casualing a social betting network, on a variety of corporate, intellectual property and contests and sweepstakes matters, including the design and implementation of a video game tournament system to limit liability under sweepstakes law
- AdvisedFunGoPlay, a sports-themed virtual world, on all intellectual property, virtual world and video game related legal issues
- Advised, negotiated and drafted various development agreements concerning some of the most famous movie and video game IP for a large, interactive entertainment company
- Activision Blizzard
- Augaroo Inc.
- BidRivals Ltd.
- BigDoor Media, Inc.
- Big Fish Games
- Breaktime Studios, Inc.
- Dailygobble Inc.
- Disney/ Playdom, Inc.
- DriveMeCrazy, Inc.
- Electronic Arts
- Envie Interactive LLC
- Fitting Reality
- FunGoPlay LLC
- Game Play Network
- Hydrogen Whiskey Studios
- IDG Ventures
- Idle Games
- Kabam, Inc.
- Kive Company
- Kocomojo LLC
- Life Carrot, Inc.
- Lightspeed Venture Partners
- Masher Media Inc.
- Maslow Six Entertainment, Inc.
- Mindshapes Ltd.
- Myca Health Inc.
- PlayFitness Corp.
- Playfish Ltd.
- PlayVision Labs Inc.
- Riot Games
- RivalMe Inc.
- Social Amp, Inc
- Softkinetic Inc.
- Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd
- Signia Venture Partners
- Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.
- TwoChop Inc.
- Unity Technologies
Our Social Media & Games practice involves advising on the traditional legal questions raised by launching new businesses or leveraging new technologies, informed by our in-depth understanding of and experience in addressing the business, legal and technology issues unique to social media, games and other international entertainment offerings such as:
- Developing and implementing comprehensive intellectual property protection strategies
- Acquiring and selling patent portfolios
- Enforcing intellectual property rights
- Assisting with venture capital and private equity funding
- Handling mergers and acquisitions
- Addressing corporate, tax and employment law issues
- Shaping business models based on legal and regulatory factors to minimize legal risk
A significant component of our advisory work is tied to developing business and legal strategies and the preparation of customized agreements and policies that take into account the specific business models being used and the unique and emerging legal issues that arise with social media, including:
- Assessing the refining business models to facilitate legal compliance and maximize business opportunity
- Evaluation of online contests, sweepstakes and promotions
- Customizing Terms of Service agreements and end user license agreements for unique business models
- DMCA policies (and DMCA compliance and enforcement)
- Data protection and privacy policies
- COPPA policies
- Payment provider agreements
- Development agreements
- Developing virtual goods and virtual currencies strategies
- Advising on contests, sweepstakes and gambling issues
- Advising on legal issues with gamification
- Open source issues
- EU privacy
Commitment to Start-ups
We are dedicated to supporting start-ups in this space leveraging the fact that many key members of the Social Media & Games team are also members of the firm’s Emerging Growth practice.. We are deeply involved with various incubators and accelerators. For example:
- For the last four years, we have been the exclusive law firm partner to Founders Institute, hosting a 10 week incubator program in our New York office.
- We are also the sole law firm sponsor of YetiZen Innovation Lab, the only game-focused accelerator. Our partners serve as mentors for the members and we often participate and speak at YetiZen’s events.
- We host Northern Virginia Technology Counsel (NVTC) FastTrac programming in our Northern Virginia office. Our lawyers present on various legal issues.
- We host Start-Out programming in our New York office and participate in local events throughout the country. One of our partners is on the board of this organization.
- We have sponsored the last three AngelHack hackathons which brings in over 400 developers and entrepreneurs.
- We sponsor monthly meet-ups in our San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices for 800 Birds for game app developers and entrepreneurs.
We are pleased to offer flexible pricing to start-ups including fixed fees, where feasible, and deferred payments (on a mutually agreeable basis).
Our unique capability to provide comprehensive, proactive advice on these cutting-edge issues results, in part, from our lawyers' commitment to be involved in and stay abreast of rapidly evolving business, legal and technical trends. Through this investment, our team obtains valuable knowledge and insights that enable us to provide significant strategic advice and resources to clients, well beyond just "doing legal work." Some of those activities include:
- Firm lawyers serve in key leadership positions on American Bar Association committees (Chair, Committee on Virtual Worlds and Computer Gaming; Chair, Virtual Worlds and Multiuser Online Games Committee, Digital Advertising and many more)
- Firm lawyers formed and currently chair the Social Media & Games Committee for the International Technology Law Association (ITechLaw)
- Sponsored first writing competition on legal issues for virtual worlds with an award ceremony in Second Life®.
- Firm lawyer created and currently chairs the Technology and Entertainment Convergence seminar, "Technotainment," which draws over 500 people, in New York City and San Francisco, and connects hundreds of others virtually via webcast.
- Publisher of the www.socialgameslaw.com blog.
- Active in the Twitter community @Get_SET_Law
- Host informative panels with industry leaders from companies like Electronic Arts and Zynga.
Our team attends dozens of industry events each year and is frequently invited to speak at leading industry conferences worldwide, including:
- CES – Annual Games Summit
- Social Media Week – Washington DC, New York and San Francisco
- Global iGaming Summit & Expo (GiGse)
- Augmented Reality Event
- Game Developers Conference