Skip to Content

Question about patents

7 replies [Last post]
rpcarnell
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969

Do all board games have to be patented?

I have developed three board games. Two of which have the rules and graphics copyrighted. However, I haven't patented any of them. Is this necessary? I do know Monopoly was patented, but that's about it.

zaiga
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Question about patents

A patent is not necessary on a board game, and probably only worth it when you have some kind of innovative, mechanical device that you want to protect.

A game is automatically copyrighted when you create it. You have a copyright on the "form" of the game: the images, the rules. You cannot copyright mechanics. It may be a good idea to register your copyright, which will make your case a lot easier in court, if it ever comes to that.

If you want to protect certain terms or words or phrases, such as "John Doe's Fantastical Flabber-o-matic" you need a trademark.

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Question about patents

I'm not familiar with a patent on Monopoly. What was patented?

zaiga
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Question about patents

This is an interesting link: http://www.atarimagazines.com/compute/issue92/254_1_Microscope.php. It deals with whether you can make a computerized version of Monopoly, but it has some interesting information.

Quote:
"The idea for a board game like MonopolyTM can be protected by a patent. This excludes anyone else from marketing a game with the same object, style of play, and so on"

And [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly_(game)]Wikipedia[/url] says:

Quote:
According to Hasbro, since Charles Darrow patented the game in 1935...

and...

Quote:
Various patents have existed on the game of Monopoly and its predecessors such as "The Landlord's Game," but they are all now expired.

and...

Quote:

The specific graphics of the game board, cards, and pieces are protected by copyright law, as is the specific wording of the game's rules; however, one can most likely avoid violation by producing a board and rules that are functionally identical while using different words and graphics.

Finally, the famous patent itself (click on "images", it opens a ActiveX thingy, which unfortunately crashes on my PC, but anyway...):

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=2026082

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Question about patents

That Wikipedia article is fascinating, with many more details abut the game's origins than I've heard before, including not only how Darrow didn't invent it (which I'd certainly read), but how he hadn't even invented anything, that the version he sold to Parker Brothers with Atlantic City as the focus had been invented by others, too. Man, what a con artist.

I couldn't get any of the patents to open, either, but not due to an ActiveX thing, rather to the fact that my browser can't even find the patft.uspto.gov server.

The Magie patent pictured in the article looks like some of the boardgame patents you can see now at the USPTO, all of which were complete wastes of time and money (that I could find) as none of the games ever became popular. (That doesn't mean I don't think any game patent has ever been useful, just that all the ones I can find are crap.) For most games that $1,500 to $15,000 can buy some very important marketing, increasing the chances of making some money much more than a patent ever could.

-- Matthew

zaiga
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Question about patents

It's indeed fascinating to browse the US patent office's website for board gaming patents. There are thousands of 'em, most for roll-and-move-around-the-board games of which I have ever heard. I doubt many of them made a lot of money off of them... Well, I suppose the patent office and various lawyers made a lot of money off of them!

bluesea
bluesea's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
Question about patents

check out:

http://5minuteboardgamereviews.blogspot.com/

re: Monopoly: The Realistic Review

braincog
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Question about patents

zaiga wrote:
It's indeed fascinating to browse the US patent office's website for board gaming patents. There are thousands of 'em, most for roll-and-move-around-the-board games of which I have ever heard. I doubt many of them made a lot of money off of them... Well, I suppose the patent office and various lawyers made a lot of money off of them!

Yeah, I don't think it makes any sense at all to spend thousands of dollars on a game patent when you can do it yourself rather easily and spend only your time and the cost of a small entitiy filing fee. Indeed, there are so many patents for games that never make money commercially. It is somewhat fun to read the patents for games which seem so obviously bad that you have to wonder what the inventor was smoking. For every Cranium patent there is (an interesting read), there are a hundred that were probably never even commercialized. But if all you spend on it is the filing fee and write and submit the patent yourself, it can be rewarding and help you really become effective at marketing your game (you'll become very articulate at descibing what is unique about your idea). And if you really do have some clever mechanics, it might give you some peace of mind to believe they are protected if you can't commercialize very quickly.

Bill

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut