Interactive Entertainment Law Group (IE Law Group) announces their affiliation with the law firm of Bedoya & Visbal Abogados in Baranquilla, Colombia.
As the founding partner of the IE Law Group, Patrick Sweeney is well known in business circles as one of the leading legal firms in the games industry. Bedoya & Visbal’s regional expertise combined with IE Law Group’s global client base and depth of experience will result in the unequivocal leading legal platform for games companies in South America. Currently, the two firms represent approximately 10 clients throughout South America, including studios located in Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay.
The games business now flows fluidly across country borders and Sweeney believes there is a growing opportunity and need to build an affiliation in South American. Partnering with Bedoya & Visbal Abogados in Columbia gives both firms an opportunity to share expertise with each other and their respective clients. The two firms will combine their marketing, client development and educational efforts within South America through various client outreach events and industry conferences focused on the growing games industry in the region.
Sweeney explains, “Within the last few years, I’ve seen many great studios coming from South America, many of which have become clients of my firm. When looking at this growing client base, it makes sense to ally ourselves with a firm that already has a presence in the region and shares similar values and passion for representing our clients. After spending time with Jorge and Maria Carolina, it became clear that our approach to client representation is very aligned.”
Jorge Bedoya of Bedoya & Visbal explains that this affiliation is about their clients. “As Bedoya & Visbal looks to grow its practice and expand the value we offer to our clients, one firm clearly stood out as a model for success: the IE Law Group, which is well-known as one of the best games practices in the world and the largest in North America. After talking with Patrick on numerous occasions, it became very clear that working with the IE Law Group team would be beneficial to our existing and future clients in South America. Through this affiliation we have the largest “footprint” of clients in the region and clearly have the deepest amount of experience of any law firm (large or small) on the continent. Maria Carolina Visbal and I look forward to working with the IE Law Group team!”
We were able to catch up with Patrick, Jorge and Maria Carolina to ask them some questions about the announcement and some of the business differences between the regions.
Can you explain the general partnership and collaboration between Interactive Entertainment Law Group (IE Law Group) and the law firm of Bedoya & Visbal Abogados in Baranquilla, Colombia
Patrick Sweeney: Our firms will combine our resources with respect to client development, speaking engagements and research regarding regional trends. We will also coordinate with respect to servicing our South American clients to make sure the services that each of our firms provide are synchronized globally. Finally, we will work with our clients on a prospective basis, assessing their goals and growth as well as providing strategic introductions to our global network within the industry.
What will you be focusing on with the new partnership?
Jorge Bedoya: Initially, the focus will be on introducing ourselves to the industry in South America through speaking engagements at conferences, joint visits to our clients, etc.
Maria Carolina Visbal: We view this as a long-term process to identify the development studio that fit within our existing client roster and figure out how we can help them get to the next level. At the same time we will continue to provide top-quality representation to our existing clients.
What made you first aware of the opportunity in LATAM?
Patrick Sweeney: My first exposure to the quality teams in the South American market came from two studios based in Colombia. One is my client Efecto, who has done some really significant work for the studio Wildcard team on “Ark.” The other was negotiating a deal opposite Brainz, a mobile time in Bogota. Both groups were really impressive and great to work with. After those initial experiences, I spoke on a few panels at last year’s Colombia 3.0 Conference in Bogota. There I had the opportunity to meet a lot of other independent studios and see first-hand the quality that is coming out of the region.
Jorge Bedoya: In the last few years the interactive entertainment industry in South America has been widely support by various stakeholders. From hardwardworking indie developers to investment funds and government agencies, everybody has had a part in expanding the industry, generating confidence in the quality of services and products available in the South American market. Maria Carolina and I have been acutely aware of the talent in this region for a long time.
Can you explain some of the business and legal differences a business needs to be aware of when working with companies in Latin America?
Patrick Sweeney: First and foremost is the protection of intellectual property. A comprehensive trademark and copyright strategy may require filings in the United States as well as specific countries in South America (and the rest of the world). In addition, negotiating game development agreements is an area where industry “norms” may vary from country to country. Collectively, our firms have seen more deals than just about any law firm in the world and we will bring that value-add to our clients. Also, planning a studio’s corporate structure will vary from country to country. That is an area where where I expect Jorge, Maria Carolina and I will work together a lot.
Maria Carolina Visbal: We believe that having a solid corporate structure is key in order to generate business reliability. This not only creates confidence in the market but also stimulates the professionalism and growth of the local industry.
How can companies in North America best position themselves to work with developers in Latin America?
Patrick Sweeney: All companies tend to work with partners that they know and trust. So I would start by advising my North American clients to get familiar with the players in the region. Assess their quality bar, capabilities and availability.
Jorge Bedoya: Deep partnerships are not going to happen overnight and sometimes the first step is the hardest to take. But once North American companies understand that they have high-quality opportunities in South America, it’s a matter of time to find the projects that are a match for everyone involved.
What types of games, content, technology do you see coming from Latin America?
Patrick Sweeney: It’s a very wide variety. A good friend of mine always says, “Europe is not a country and should not be treated as one.” I think the same is true for South America. The teams are spread out across the continent and are not all innovating in the same manner.
Maria Carolina Visbal: Most of our existing clients in the region are independent studios at various stages of their growth. They are creating games and content across all platforms and genres.
Are there any other insights you would like to share?
Patrick Sweeney: The Teams and talent that is already present in South America will continue to grow at an exponential rate. Our job (at Bedoya Visbal and at IE Law Group) will be to stay attuned to the client base, know what our clients are trying to achieve and help our clients get there. Ultimately, our role as advocates and counselors is the same throughout the world and it’s no different in South America.
IE Law Group
IE Law Group was established in 2013 by Patrick Sweeney to provide industry-specific, high-quality legal representation to companies and individuals in the Video Game/App/Interactive Media sector. Strategically located in Southern California, they work with clients across the United States as well as companies located in more than 20 countries throughout the world. Please see www.ielawgroup.net for more information.
Bedoya & Visbal Abogados
Bedoya & Visbal began in 2015 as an initiative of Jorge Bedoya and María Carolina Visbal seeking to provide quality legal advice in the fast growing Interactive Entertainment and Digital Content Industries in Latin-America. Bedoya & Visbal is located in Barranquilla, Colombia where it renders its services to all size companies present in the region. Please visit www.bedoyavisbal.com for more information.