Why are licence agreements so important to get right?

Written by Chloé Vertigen | November 28, 2022

IP Contracts

The publisher behind the latest Cooking Mama game has found themselves in hot water with IP owner Office Create.

There appears to be a resolution to an ongoing dispute between Office Create, and publisher Planet Entertainment, who published the latest Cooking Mama title Cooking Mama: Cookstar on Nintendo.

Unfortunately for Planet Entertainment, the result seems to be that they didn’t have the authorisation from Office Create to go ahead with the publication of Cooking Mama: Cookstar – in particular, it appears that:

  • The Nintendo port of Cooking Mama: Cookstar was not of satisfactory quality, and Office Create did not grant permission for the game to be published, but Planet Entertainment went ahead anyway; and
  • Planet Entertainment started to advertise a PlayStation 4 version of the game, which was not covered by the licence at all.

Briffa Comment

Some of my fondest memories as a child came from playing Cooking Mama on DS with my cousins during the summer holidays, so it’s a shame to see the franchise involved in this type of dispute.

However this does serve as an important reminder to IP owners that licence agreements allow you to take action against publishers or other licensees who don’t comply with the licences you grant them, so it’s really important to make sure the licences are drafted correctly and accurately reflect what you’ve agreed.

In particular, the scope of the licence (ie what the publisher can and can’t do with your intellectual property) should be clearly set out. For example, if you only want the publisher to launch on PlayStation, this should be clearly stated. If the licence is too broad, you might not be able to stop a publisher from a multi-platform release.

You should also look at how much control you have over finished products – in Cooking Mama’s case, there appears to have been a clause allowing Office Create to stop publication where the game wasn’t up to standard. If you don’t have these checks in place, you are risking unfinished products on the market, and you will have limited options to remove the game from stores or to recover any costs or compensation for damage to your reputation.

At Briffa we can assist with reviewing your licence agreements to make sure the terms are clear and accurate. We can also draft licence agreements to suit the needs of your game or project. If this is something we can help with, please get in touch!

Written by Chloé Vertigen – Solicitor

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