A company makes a great game called "AwesomeGame" that costs 20€.

They sell thousands of copies of the game, but ultimately go bankrupt.

What is the status of the game at that point? Do any intellection-property rights or protections of it still exist?

2 Answers 2


A bankrupt company's assets are transferred to its creditors. This includes intangible assets such as trademarks, copyrights, and other intellectual property.

Whoever ends up with the rights to the game can continue to market and distribute it, or use legal means to prevent others from doing so.

  • 2
    This is correct. However, I guess the actual question should have been "what if the creditor doesn't care, and stops selling the game?", and this is where the gray area of abandonware comes in…
    – o0'.
    Jul 1, 2015 at 17:38
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    @lohoris Note that your point is not peculiar to intellectual property or to bankruptcy. A creditor could acquire any sort of property through a bankruptcy and not particularly care about it. Like the creditor might acquire a factory with old machines that are obsolete and virtually worthless, etc. Or someone could inherit property -- intellectual, personal, or real -- that they don't care about. Or someone could own a piece of property for decades and lose interest in it. Etc.
    – Jay
    Jul 1, 2015 at 20:15
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    Also note, just because someone is not actively using their intellectual property does not mean that they have abandoned their rights to it and that others may then freely appropriate it. It's not normally up to someone else to decide that you are not using your property and so they can take it. Like, if someone broke into your house and carried off, say, a chair, a court would be unlikely to accept as a defense that "he hasn't sat in that chair for five years, I figured he didn't care about it any more". There are specific laws about when physical property is considered abandoned. I'm not ...
    – Jay
    Jul 1, 2015 at 20:21
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    @Jay I'm not sure about France (as the question is tagged,) but, at least here in the U.S., it works as you described. Just because you're not actively using your IP rights to something doesn't mean you in any way forfeit those rights nor does it grant anyone else any rights to use it.
    – reirab
    Jul 1, 2015 at 20:45
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    Basically seemingly abandoned work is still subject to copyright law, and copying/deriving from that work is gambling that nobody is going to enforce it.
    – jamesdlin
    Jul 2, 2015 at 18:54

My understanding (IANAL, but was told some of this by a lawyer) is that (at least in England) unclaimed assets after a liquidation vest in the state as bona vacantia and intellectual property that the liquidator can't sell (not unusual) is included in this.

I see the UK government now has a department that deals with this and will consider offers for such property: https://www.gov.uk/buy-intellectual-property-bvc8

No idea if France takes a similar approach.

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