Will the rise of gaming cryptocurrencies lead to more IP theft?
Blockchain (a distributed ledger comprising cryptographically linked data, enforced by a disparate network of computers) and cryptocurrencies (virtual currencies powered by blockchain technology) entered the mainstream consciousness a few years ago. More recently, these innovations have entered popular culture via gaming. In some games, players can now purchase cryptocurrencies for use as an in-game medium of exchange.
That’s a very exciting development for those eager to see more widespread adoption of these technologies. But the trend may well create more opportunities for IP theft and scams. Verinius, a game developer in the Philippines, found that out the hard way recently when he realised that someone had launched a cryptocurrency using the name of Lawmage Academy, a game he had created.
The steps he took may be helpful for other innovators who find themselves in similar situations. In an interview with IGN Southeast Asia, he said that he had already set up Lawmage Academy accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, and Telegram. When he found out about the scam, he immediately denounced the perpetrators on these platforms so that it would be clear that his game and the cryptocurrency were not affiliated.
Establishing a presence on social media helps to strengthen a creator’s claim on his intellectual property as well, he said. “If you can afford it, copyright and trademark your game. It will give you a form of protection and evidence that you are the owner of the game,” he suggested.
He also reported the incident to the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Office of the Philippines, and encouraged other creators who found themselves in such predicaments to reach out to equivalent organisations in their respective countries for assistance and to kickstart investigations.
As a result of his actions, the value of the scam cryptocurrency plunged. However, Verinius warns: “There’s a good probability that it will happen again to other indie developers. The video game industry has been struggling with piracy for the longest time, and in a way, this is similar to that.”