19 July 2018
For me, perhaps the most surprising aspect of Scythe’s success has been the sheer amount of complementary accessories other companies have created for it. There are custom meeples and inserts and 3D printed tokens and promo coins and t-shirts and digital apps…the list goes on and on.
I love that Scythe has inspired this level of creativity from companies around the world. I also love the positive impact these accessories have had on fans of Scythe–in addition to official accessories, promos, and digital games published or licensed by Stonemaier Games, they have a wealth of third-party options to choose from if they want to enhance their game.
Stonemaier Games doesn’t get a single cent from sales of third-party accessories. This is on purpose, as it frees me to say “no” in a number of ways:
- No special treatment. There are expectations associated with an exchange of money. If I accept a royalty, you might expect me to promote your product or send you files that others don’t have access to.
- No exclusivity. Royalty/licensing agreements often involve exclusivity, but I want to see–and share–a broad range of creativity from a number of different companies. I think open-market competition is a good thing.
- No time spent. I just want to run Stonemaier Games–I don’t want to spend my time advising another company as to whether or not their accessory looks good, nor do I want to serve as their personal marketing consultant.
- No price hikes. If Stonemaier Games doesn’t take a royalty, in theory, that should allow for the third-party company to keep the price lower, which is good for Scythe fans.
Is this the only way with third-party accessory companies? Of course not. I’m sure there are publishers out there who seek royalties in a way that works for their fans, their time, and the accessory companies. It’s just not the path I’ve chosen for Stonemaier Games.
However, I’ve learned the hard way that we need to have some rules in place for third-party accessory companies. The “hard way” is that sometimes these third-party companies don’t make it clear that the accessory isn’t an official Stonemaier product. Usually this results in mild, harmless confusion. But there are occasions where the marketing message from those companies is in direct opposition to Stonemaier’s core philosophies, and the confusion becomes a bigger problem.
So I created a simple agreement for third-party accessory companies to sign. This ensures we’re on the same page about what they can and can’t do, as well as the repercussions if they violate the agreement (which are there as a deterrent–I hope never to enforce them).
I’ll paste the entirety of that agreement below so you can see how we do it. You’re welcome to use and tweak this template for your company.
Unofficial Accessory License Agreement
This Agreement is made as between Stonemaier LLC (“Stonemaier”) and ????? (“Licensee”) (each a “Party” and collectively, “Parties”).
- Grant of License
- Stonemaier’s Products and Trademarks. Stonemaier is the creator and owner of all rights to several games and other products (the “Products”), as well as a number of valuable trademarks, both registered and unregistered, related to Stonemaier and the Products (the “Trademarks”).
- License Grant. Stonemaier grants to Licensee the limited right to develop, sell, and distribute accessories for use by consumers in conjunction with the Products (the “Accessories”).
- The above license is subject to the following limitations:
- Trademark Usage – Licensee-generated accessories may use parts of images from the game box and icons (not complete images; the artist must be credited). Advertisements may use logos/wordmarks, icons, and images from any part of the game.
- No Consultancy or Assistance – Stonemaier will not assist in the creation of the Product. Licensee may inquire as to whether their presentation of the Product is meeting these guidelines, but they may not ask for Stonemaier’s private files, ideas, suggestions, or opinions.
- No Sponsorship or Affiliation – At no point during the advertisement, sale, or distribution of the accessories may Licensee, either directly or indirectly, indicate that the Accessories are endorsed by, sponsored by, or affiliated with Stonemaier. Licensee may ask Stonemaier to add a link to their website but not to endorse or promote the accessories.
- Disclaimer Required – Licensee will include the following disclaimer on all advertising materials and on the packaging of the accessories themselves: “Neither [Licensee Name] or [Accessory Name] are sponsored by or affiliated with Stonemaier Games.” A truncated version of this is permitted: “Not an Official Stonemaier Games Product.”
- Ownership and Validity. Licensee acknowledges that Stonemaier is the sole and exclusive owner of the entire right, title, and interest (including all accompanying goodwill) in and to the Trademarks. Licensee agrees not to attack the validity of any of the Trademarks at any time.
- Remedies: Licensee acknowledges that Stonemaier is entitled to injunctive or other equitable relief, as well as a 20% royalty on revenue of the Products, in the event of any infringement by Licensee. Licensee may request approval from Stonemaier in advance to avoid any violations.
- Indemnity: Licensee will defend, indemnify and hold Stonemaier harmless from and against any and all loss, liability, claims, suits, actions, proceedings, judgments, awards, damages and expenses (including attorneys’ fees) that they may incur by reason of the Licensee’s manufacture, use, sale, advertising or distribution of the Accessories.
- Governing Law. Any dispute arising under or in connection with this Agreement will be governed by the law of the State of Missouri and be resolved in the state or federal courts of Missouri. The parties consent to the jurisdiction of such courts.
What do you think about our approach to third-party accessories?
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