IP rights insight as Netflix expands further into games | Pocket Gamer.biz

Throughout 2021, Netflix Games has been offering gaming as part of its subscription service, allowing users to enjoy games alongside their favorite TV shows and movies. With the growing trend of all-in-one entertainment platforms, Netflix Games has capitalized on its popular intellectual properties (IPs) by expanding into the world of gaming. However, there are potential challenges in terms of rights management and maintaining content quality when using these IPs. To gain insight into these concerns, we spoke with Erik Rõuk, a trade mark attorney and associate at Marks & Clerk.

Why is Netflix Games gaining more attention?

According to Rõuk, while Netflix entered the gaming industry in 2021, it has taken a cautious approach to ensure a proper strategy for its mobile gaming niche. The platform has been careful not to exploit its IPs in ways that could alienate its loyal fanbase. Additionally, the end of the Covid pandemic has opened up more opportunities for entertainment and IP exploitation, making it essential for Netflix to plan its brand strategy effectively.

As an example, Rõuk mentions Disney’s success in expanding the Star Wars universe across different mediums while offering distinct gaming experiences. Similarly, Netflix can leverage its ownership of popular shows and films to create gaming titles.

What IP concerns may Netflix face?

Rõuk emphasizes that potential challenges may arise from other IP rights holders, even if Netflix owns the rights to produce and stream series. Expanding into gaming requires thorough diligence to clear IP rights, including trademarks, to avoid possible infringement risks. It’s important to note that IP rights are territorial, meaning protection in one country may not automatically extend to another.

How can Netflix address these concerns?

To combat these challenges, Rõuk suggests that Netflix should implement a robust trade mark clearance strategy. This involves conducting searches and applying for appropriate IP protection in territories where the gaming titles will be available. In some cases, commercial agreements may need to be negotiated with holders of earlier rights.

Predicting the future of Netflix games

Rõuk believes that while Netflix has focused on mobile gaming thus far, there is a demand for more sophisticated and immersive gaming experiences. This could lead to Netflix venturing into producing AAA game titles and offering subscription services for traditional PC and console games. However, this move would put Netflix in direct competition with companies like Amazon and game distribution platforms like Steam, introducing commercial and legal risks.

Future game development for Netflix may involve licensing agreements rather than in-house development, requiring careful consideration of IP availability in intended markets. Overall, addressing legal aspects early on is crucial for Netflix to effectively exploit its IPs and resonate with its existing audience and fanbase.