Technology- & IT-Law

Law on the development of computer games in germany

Computer games and the law in Germany: The world of computer games has developed rapidly in recent decades and is now a major industry that delights millions of people worldwide. However, behind the colorful graphics and exciting stories lies a complex legal landscape that developers, publishers and other parties involved must take into account. The law governing the development of computer games encompasses numerous areas of law, from copyright and media law to data protection and the protection of minors.

The creation and protection of creative content

One of the central aspects of computer games law is the protection of creative content. This is where copyright plays a crucial role. Every computer game is a complex work consisting of various copyright-protected elements, including software code, graphics, music and storyline. The protection of these elements enables developers to protect their creative work from unauthorized use and secures them the necessary economic rights.

However, the game idea itself cannot be protected by copyright. The decisive factor is the specific design that shows creative individuality. This includes, for example, the unique characters, the specific rules of the game and the visual design. When developing a game, clear contracts must therefore be concluded that regulate who is entitled to which rights, especially if various authors and developers are involved.

Copyright contract law and the relationship between developers and publishers

The relationships between developers and publishers are governed by copyright contract law. Contracts on the use of copyrights are essential to enable the exploitation and marketing of games. There are different types of contracts, such as commissioned productions, in which a developer creates a game on behalf of a publisher, or license agreements, which grant the publisher the rights to market an existing game.

It is particularly important to clearly regulate the transfer of rights and remuneration. Developers should ensure that their moral rights are protected and that they are adequately remunerated for their work. Publishers, on the other hand, require comprehensive usage rights in order to publish and distribute the game on various platforms.

Competition law and protection against imitations

In the highly competitive computer games market, protection against counterfeiting is of great importance. Competition law offers mechanisms to prevent unfair imitations. In particular, protection against unauthorized adaptation and the distinction between free use and unauthorized adaptation are key aspects. Unfree adaptation exists if the new work remains too close to the original in terms of content and form and adopts its individual features.

In addition, competition law offers protection against interference in the gameplay, such as cheatbots or farming, which can impair the gaming experience and the integrity of the game. Developers can take legal action against such interference in order to ensure fairness and enjoyment of the game.

Patent protection and trademark law

Patent law also plays a role in the development of computer games, especially when it comes to technical innovations. Although software as such is difficult to patent, specific technical solutions within a game can enjoy patent protection under certain conditions. This applies, for example, to special processes for displaying graphics or innovative game mechanics.

Trademark law is also of great importance. The protection of game titles and logos ensures the recognizability and economic value of a game. Developers and publishers should ensure that their trademarks are registered and protected against unauthorized use by third parties. The use of third-party trademarks within games must also be carefully checked to ensure that no trademark rights are infringed.

Data protection and youth protection

Data protection is playing an increasingly important role in the digital world of computer games. Online games often collect and process players’ personal data. Developers and operators must ensure that they comply with the applicable data protection regulations and protect the privacy of players. This includes transparently informing users about data collection and processing and obtaining consent where necessary.

The protection of minors is another key issue. Games aimed at minors must comply with the requirements of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media and the Youth Protection Act. This applies to both the age rating and the content of the games, which must not contain any elements that are harmful to minors. Developers should therefore obtain the necessary checks and approvals at an early stage in order to avoid legal problems.

Compterspiele und Recht: Rechtsanwalt Ferner zum Recht der Computerspiele und Computerspiele-Entwickler

I love technology – and art. You notice this just as quickly in my office as in my private rooms, which – alongside modern games consoles – contain a small but fine selection of pop and street art.

I advise and represent programmers and indie labels in the field of computer games law. Here on the website, the topic of computer games is covered in the “Arts and Media” section.


The development of computer games is a fascinating, but also legally demanding process. From the initial idea to implementation and marketing, there are numerous legal aspects to consider. Copyright law, contract law, competition law, patent law, trademark law, data protection and the protection of minors form the complex legal framework that ensures that creative works can be protected and marketed in a legally secure manner.

Developers and publishers must be aware of this legal framework and take appropriate measures in order to be successful in the market. Enthusiasm for computer games and legal knowledge go hand in hand here in order to shape the future of this exciting medium.

German Lawyer at Law Firm Ferner Alsdorf
I am a specialist lawyer for criminal law + specialist lawyer for IT law and dedicate myself professionally entirely to criminal defence and IT law, especially software law. Before becoming a lawyer, I was a software developer. I am an author in a renowned commentary on the German Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO) as well as in professional journals.

Our law firm specialises in criminal defence, white-collar crime and IT law / technology law. Note our activity in digital evidence in IT security and software law.
German Lawyer Jens Ferner (Criminal Defense & IT-Law)