Developing new card game. Legal protections?
May 24, 2017 4:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the process of developing a new card game. Before I actually begin selling this as a product, I'd like to be sure I understand how much and what kind of legal protections I should have in place so my/family personal assets are safe.

Some background information:

- I plan to sell on Amazon, using their fulfillment/transaction systems
- I plan to have all decks produced by large playing card companies here in the US and not do it myself or offshore it. Technically, I won't be producing anything aside from the artwork printed on the cards.
- I would almost certainly form an LLC for the protections it does offer
- I would be keeping my day job and not taking a salary or anything from this LLC.

Some specific areas I'd love some guidance in:

1. Is there a kind of low-overhead LLC I should consider? Something that provides the same protections but might have minimal meeting/minutes/paperwork/taxes requirements?

2. Is it worth having a lawyer form my LLC for me, or does filing one via an online site suffice?

3. Is there a kind of insurance I can/should purchase for a reasonable amount?

4. Are there any other kinds of protections I can/should put in place?

5. Given the background I've laid out, are there any liability issues I could be exposed to, and not be able to sufficiently protect against?

Thanks, all. Obviously I'm paranoid about protection. This is something I want to do, but I've heard such horror stories about our hyper-litigious culture.
posted by quantum to Law & Government (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
James Mathe's website has a good overview of business entities and card/board game design: Dammit Jim, I'm a publisher, not a lawyer!
posted by Paragon at 5:07 PM on May 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

When I was self-employed, my lawyer said there was no point in forming an LLC, since it was only ever me doing the work, so there really weren't any legal protections available. This may have been industry-specific (consulting) or state-specific (NY), but before you take those steps or make any concrete plans I'd recommend talking to a lawyer.
posted by okayokayigive at 5:45 PM on May 24, 2017

Check out what Nolo Press has on offer?
posted by latkes at 6:49 PM on May 24, 2017

An LLC is for professional partnerships like law firms and dental clinics. I think you mean you want to incorporate. Which is what I did as an artist because I want to will my copyrights to my kids and I don't want them to have to deal with any lawsuits personally like if I borrowed too much from another artist. Not discovered til after my death. I also did it because if someone takes over my booth at an artfair, for example, and get's injured, I can be sued but I wouldn't lose my house. From how I understand it. But I am not a lawyer so ask your lawyer if I am right you want to be a corporation not an LLC.
posted by cda at 12:28 AM on May 25, 2017

cda: you are thinking limited liability partnerships, not LLCs

The variety of incorrect information here is a good example of why you may want to consult a lawyer regarding business formation and insurance. The answers to these questions depend on your state or the state you end up forming a company in. You can do these types of things yourself (it's not actually hard) but it will require state specific research. If you simply google your state name plus business entities you likely will find some good information (possibly even from the state government) explaining the liability and tax benefits of different entity types as well as their maintenance requirements.
posted by cyphill at 6:35 AM on May 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I currently have an LLC for a business that provides professional services to other small businesses. I operated for many years with only a DBA. A DBA is "doing business as," and basically allows you to legally register something other than your own name to do business with.

I only formed the LLC when I anticipated adding either an employee or partnership to my business. In the end, I didn't do that, and I think now (10 years into it) the DBA would be sufficient for operating a single-person business.

When I formed the LLC, I did it online and found it was relatively inexpensive and relatively easy. But if I were in your position and had a choice, I think I'd spend the money it took to form the LLC on a consultation with an attorney with the aim of finding out the best way to run the business as a sole proprietor using a DBA.
posted by layceepee at 7:22 AM on May 25, 2017

I'm a lawyer. I think the site Paragon linked to above is good. If you're willing to do it on your own, the site is a good guide. I would go with an LLC or S-corp and you can look at your state's Secretary of State website to see what the fees are and what paperwork is required. Note ongoing filing/maintenance fees and taxes in addition to initial filing fees.

If you want to be careful or are risk-averse, the advice to consult with a lawyer for an hour or two is also good. You should ask them what kind of entity they would recommend, where you should form the entity (which may or may not be your home state), and what kinds of filings, fees, taxes, and governance documents are required. That's really all you need to know. You may be able to get this advice for free if you are then willing to pay the lawyer to do the paperwork. If the lawyer bills by the hour, I think 2 hours would be plenty to talk to you about this and complete the paperwork and filing. It's pretty routine. Some lawyers have flat rates for this service.

For insurance, general liability insurance is probably fine for what you're doing. You can call for quotes and decide whether you think it's worth it.
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:55 AM on May 25, 2017

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