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Patent Help

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Willi_B
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Joined: 12/31/1969

The following was a response email... I was inquiring pricing on patents from gamepatents.com and they sent this in response which I think will be both helpful and informative to me. I don't think I can afford a patent right now, and they said such things aren't fixed and can cost as little as $1500 and upwards to $15000 (or more). At least they were kind enough to send this information, which is sort of a good way to win me over for potential future business. Sorry in advance for not making links, but you know how to cut and paste, right? ;)

I am in no way associated with any site/business listed in this post.

Reference Information

1) Articles About Intellectual Property (Patents, Trademarks,
Copyrights, Etc.)

* Top 10 Things Every Business Should Know About Intellectual Property
http://www.lawlawlaw.com/top10ip.html

* How To Audit Your Intellectual Property
http://www.lawlawlaw.com/how-to-audit-ip.html

2) Articles About Trademarks

* How (And Why) To Trademark Your Logo
http://www.lawlawlaw.com/trademarking-logo.html

* How To Name Your Company, Trademark Your Domain Name, and Domain Name Your Trademark
http://www.lawlawlaw.com/how-to-choose-names.html

3) Articles And Books About Patents

* How To Get And Defend A Patent Without Going Broke
http://www.lawlawlaw.com/mht-affordable-patents.html

* Patents vs. Trade Secrets
http://www.lawlawlaw.com/patents-vs-trade-secrets.html

Some inventors choose to pursue a patent themselves using Nolo.com's books. We can also help with this process by reviewing your application or answering any questions you may have. Nolo.com http://www.nolo.com/ has several excellent self-help legal books that you may want to consider, including the following:

* "Patent It Yourself"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1413301800/

* "Patent Searching Made Easy"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0873375548/

* "License Your Invention: Take Your Great Idea to Market with a Solid Legal Agreement." This book has good practical advice about how to get others to license your invention. Plus sample forms on CD.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1413300561/

The following book is particularly helpful to those trying to protect toys, games, or sporting goods products:

* "The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1592570623/

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patent Help

(FYI, taking the < and > marks from around the URLs allowed the BBS software to automatically create links, which I did.)

Willi_B
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patent Help

Thus, the nick name Fast Learner! HAHA!

I am a Fast Forgeter (sp?)... does that have any practical use?

braincog
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Patent Help

Willi_B wrote:
The following was a response email... I was inquiring pricing on patents from gamepatents.com and they sent this in response which I think will be both helpful and informative to me. I don't think I can afford a patent right now, and they said such things aren't fixed and can cost as little as $1500 and upwards to $15000 (or more).

Why not write and submit a patent yourself? Seems like a waste to spend thousands of dollars on something as straightforward as a game patent when you can do it yourself for just the cost of a small entity filing fee. There are several benefits, beyond obviously saving a ton of money. It really is not hard at all, though maybe a bit time consuming. But unless you have no spare time and want to file ASAP, you can easily spend a couple hours a week on it until you have it complete. The best thing about it is that you'll really benefit from having to articulate what is unique about your game. Just thinking about it at the level of detail required to write your claims will help you down the road. There are tons of game patents at the USPTO website. Just print a few off (ideally ones that are most similar to yours) and replace their info with yours. Patents are not copyrighted, so you can "steal" as much verbage from others to complete your own as you want.

The book "Patent It Yourself" is a great resource. It has step by step instructions and advice (as does the USPTO website). Just be sure you do a thorough patent search (as well as research on existing products that may not have patents) to be sure your idea really is unique and non-obvious.

Also, just remember that a patent isn't going to be of any use unless you commercialize your product, and even then, it won't do you any good unless you can afford to sue someone in the unlikely case of infringement. But getting a patent is great for personal fulfillment, giving you a bit more credibility as you do pursue commercialization, and making you a better expert on your own product.

Bill

Willi_B
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patent Help

I was really feeling out prices out of curiosity.... as it turns out, they had no straight rate. There are some benefits to having someone else that is familiar with the process handle things.

Also, I haven't found the patent searching very productive just yet.

But again, it was just a feeling out for price for me.

Patriarch
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patent Help

I'm about to forget all about producing my game due to all the buracracy and costs assiciated with it. We had a production meeting, and the costs of trademarking our name and logo was enough to make us almost forget about it entrely, and might very well end up that way :(.

I'm feeling depressed today.

braincog
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patent Help

Yeah, producing a game definitely isn't cheap. And not to make things worse, but as you can probably imagine, the costs of a patent and/or trademark will be pretty trivial compared with the cost of actually manufacturing and marketing your game. But regarding the trademark and patent issues in particular, how necessary are they in your case? Many, if not most, sucessful games don't have patents. And registering a trademark may not be all that important either, since your trademark rights are automatic when you begin using the mark in commerce. The only real benefit to registering is that it will help if you want to sue someone you believe is infringing.

Not to say that getting a patent or trademark might not be the right thing for you (I don't know anything about your situation), but don't assume it's even remotely necessary in order to manufacture and sell your game.

Good luck,
Bill

Patriarch
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patent Help

Hi...

Well. It would be smart to atleast trademark the title of the game no? And if I have no design patents, then anyone could use my gameboard and mass produce it right? If not - why would any game developer ever want a patent or trademark?

Thanks for your insight...

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patent Help

Patriarch wrote:
Well. It would be smart to atleast trademark the title of the game no?

Not necessarily. Many game names aren't protected by trademarks, and they seem to be doing fine.

Quote:
And if I have no design patents, then anyone could use my gameboard and mass produce it right?

No, because the actual design of the gameboard is automatically protected by copyright. Of course, they could take the idea of the game...

Quote:
If not - why would any game developer ever want a patent or trademark?

For legal protection. Patents protect an idea, but are rarely efficient or worthwhile for gaming ideas, unless you have something truly groundbreaking and original. Even then the use of a patent is debatable, because it is such a legal morass.

A trademark is more obviously useful. It protects a name. Monopoly, Mickey Mouse or Coca-Cola are trademarked names, so other publishers or producers cannot use these names in their products without paying the one who trademarked it. Trademarking might be worth it if you have a unique and original name.

However, if you are thinking of producing a small run game (<5000 copies) then I don't think patenting or trademarking will be worth it.

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patent Help

I just wanted to add... People are always so afraid of other people stealing their boardgame ideas, but in reality these things rarely happen. It's like getting an insurance for when your car is hit by a meteor. Sure, it might happen, but the chances are so small that there's no point worrying about it. If I were you I'd spend my time and money on things that make the product a success rather than on all kinds of legal protection.

Patriarch
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patent Help

Thanks... Its nice with you guys giving me a reality check :)

But the Title of the game should have some kind of protection no? That strikes me as being the most important bit.

braincog
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patent Help

After posting this (thinking I was the first to respond) I see that the above comments are pretty much the same. Oh-well. At least these independent data points should help you feel more secure that we aren't full of crap... :-)

Patriarch wrote:
Hi...

Well. It would be smart to atleast trademark the title of the game no?

It certainly won't hurt. You can file electronically online and it'll cost $275. Do it by paper and mail, and it is $375. Not a huge expense in the scheme of things (if you do it yourself). But you automatically have trademark rights by being the first to use the mark in commerce. So registering only makes it easier for you to collect bigger damages if you sue an infringer. But it also depends a little on the name you want to trademark. The more unique it is (e.g. "NooBooDooBoo") the less likely anyone will infringe (accidentally or intentionally), so spending the money may not be necessary right now. You can always do it later on. If the name is more "mainstream", then the risk is a bit higher, and getting a trademark makes more sense.

Patriarch wrote:

And if I have no design patents, then anyone could use my gameboard and mass produce it right? If not - why would any game developer ever want a patent or trademark?

Thanks for your insight...

If the shape or folding style of your board is unique, then a design patent may be worthwhile. If all we are talking about is artwork, then the board is protected by copyright. You could register the copyright if you want for something like $50, but again, all your copyright rights are automatic when you create the artwork, so it isn't really necessary.

A patent would be more valuable when you have a very unique physical mechanism in the game or if the method of play is very novel. I got a patent for my game method for many reasons, and am glad I did.

Obviously, having your copyright or trademark registered gives you the upper hand if you have to go after someone for infringement. It also puts your mark on record so it'll be less likely someone will use it. But your basic rights are unchanged.

Patents are quite a bit different in terms of the rights you have with one versus without. But unless you truly have unique, useful, and non-obvious game apparatus or mechanics that are also universally valuable, a patent probably won't do you much good. Patents cost a bit more. $150 to file one and $700 when one is actually issued (typically 12-18 months later if it is accepted). Then more to "maintain" the patent at various time intervals. All this is on www.uspto.gov.

It is generally a topic of conversation that people new to the industry are vastly more paranoid than actual events in the industry would suggest they ought to be. The chances that a company will risk damaging it's reputation by stealing someone elses intellectual property is pretty slim. And the chance that anyone else will steal another person's ideas AND have the resources and will to commercialize them is pretty slim too.

Bill

Patriarch
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patent Help

Feeling better already. I might add though that the prices you mention are far different than the ones my partner in crime found... He ind that trademarking the name in the EU and US for 10 years would cost around $4200... Ouch.

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