Skip to Content

Would-be designer's concern about patents

9 replies [Last post]
Anonymous

Hi,
I recently started thinking about producing one or more of the games ive created over the years, and i started reading the forums here and a few other forums/resources to find out how to go about it.

Of course i was actually looking for supplies of materials to put the game/games together, but i hit a worrying brick wall that is THE PATENT.

Ive got some nice ideas (we all have lots of those dont we?), some of which i think may be at least mildly different, some ive not heard of at all.

My worry is creating a game that conflicts with a patent or copyright that i had no idea existed, i get the impression there are tons of patents in regard to board games.

Yes i could probably hunt down a way of searching for patents (not sure how yet) but how do you trawl through the billions of patents that exist (for all kinds of things) to locate something that may or may not conflict with your idea/game mechanic, if you didnt know it existed in the first place?

Is this a pitfall in general with board game creation? am i gambling every time i produce something that i might get sued for all my worldy possessions because i didnt know a patent existed?

Johan
Johan's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/05/2008
Would-be designer's concern about patents

Actually its only 2 patents you have to worry about. It's the WotC patent with CCG and tap rules and the Camelot patent with simultaneous movement. If you planning to print and sell the game outside US, those patent are not any problem for you.

For copyright: I assume that you have created the game by your self, added you own graphic and not used any fonts that was not free to use. In that case it's no problem.

// Johan

phpbbadmin
Offline
Joined: 04/23/2013
Would-be designer's concern about patents

Johan wrote:
Actually its only 2 patents you have to worry about. It's the WotC patent with CCG and tap rules and the Camelot patent with simultaneous movement. If you planning to print and sell the game outside US, those patent are not any problem for you.

Whoah back up Johan. I'm almost positive there are more than TWO patents pertaining to board games. As always, when dealing with legal matters, it's best to consult your attorney.

-Darke

Anonymous
only those 2 patents?

Really just those 2?
part of one of my game includes the use of counters that stack up - ie each player's cash
i was thinking the obvious thing was to use poker chips for this, coloured based on their use.
I got the impression that maybe poker chips themselves were a patented object?

I must admit im pretty green when it comes to this sort of thing, and since i was considering self publishing for the start its obviously a worry

A stack of cards that one is picked from when an event happens, and certain cards that are taken from a pack each turn for each player - these arent patented mechanics?

As for simultaneous turns, the game i was looking at has all of the players declare their actions at the beginning, in whatever order of the player who declares first (not important), until everyone has declared. then the players follow a certain order to play through all their turns
strangely enough a counter was going to be passed from player to player to show whose go it currently is but there is no element of players getting more turns becuase they pass it onto another player quicker (there is only one counter - a bit like a talking stick)

Johan
Johan's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/05/2008
Would-be designer's concern about patents

Darkehorse wrote:
Johan wrote:
Actually its only 2 patents you have to worry about. It's the WotC patent with CCG and tap rules and the Camelot patent with simultaneous movement. If you planning to print and sell the game outside US, those patent are not any problem for you.

Whoah back up Johan. I'm almost positive there are more than TWO patents pertaining to board games. As always, when dealing with legal matters, it's best to consult your attorney.

-Darke

Yes there are. There are several patent (I did a walk threw some years ago and new patents has probably arrived). Most of the patents are on complete games (designers that wanted to protect there games and get a patent on it). The most famous one it the patent on Monopoly, but that is not valid anymore.(All parts in a patent has to be fulfilled for you to validate the patent).
Make a patent in the board game industry is like throwing your money away. It will cost you more then you get.
Those are the only two that I would concern about:
- The WotC patent because they have the money to make your life a living hell.
- The Camelot patent because it is so new.

Still... if you live outside US, this is not a problem.

// Johan
p.s. If you want to be 110% sure then contact a lawyer and pay a lot of money for that (still its not any guarantee).

Anonymous
Would-be designer's concern about patents

I see, so because i live in the UK, so long as the game isnt shipped to the US i should be ok?
(not sure im happy with 'should')
I was hoping to sell on the web and ship to anywhere really, seems a shame to limit myself and not offer it to the US. (not that i think my game breaks those 2 patents anyway)
I wanted to avoid any legal costs - my impression was they would be through the roof and not worth much anyway.

johant
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Would-be designer's concern about patents

i find it hard to figure out what is knowing and what is believing!

It wouldn be interesting to discuss what happens when games have things in common! When could you consider a game something new and when is it it just a version of an old game? Is it just me that find this an interesting topic?

I have raist this question before, but i havent got any response yet!

Johan
Johan's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/05/2008
Would-be designer's concern about patents

Everspire wrote:
I see, so because i live in the UK, so long as the game isnt shipped to the US i should be ok?
(not sure im happy with 'should')
I was hoping to sell on the web and ship to anywhere really, seems a shame to limit myself and not offer it to the US. (not that i think my game breaks those 2 patents anyway)
I wanted to avoid any legal costs - my impression was they would be through the roof and not worth much anyway.

One way to do it would be to file a patent on the game yourself. You don’t have to complete the application and do the final step. This will still cost you some money, but you will get a list of the patents that they think that you validate (and you should read).

... and no. It's not your problem. You sell the game on UK law (If you sell over the Internet, have a note that its UK law that applies for the buyer if you have a dispute over the deal/game).
If you have someone that import the game, then it's his/hers problem, not yours.

// Johan

Johan
Johan's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/05/2008
Would-be designer's concern about patents

johant wrote:
i find it hard to figure out what is knowing and what is believing!

It wouldn be interesting to discuss what happens when games have things in common! When could you consider a game something new and when is it it just a version of an old game? Is it just me that find this an interesting topic?

I have raist this question before, but i havent got any response yet!
The reason why no one knows is that these laws are different in each country and because it's up to a court to decide.
We are trying to apply national laws on international problems...

// Johan

zaiga
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Would-be designer's concern about patents

johant wrote:
i find it hard to figure out what is knowing and what is believing!

It wouldn be interesting to discuss what happens when games have things in common! When could you consider a game something new and when is it it just a version of an old game? Is it just me that find this an interesting topic?

I have raist this question before, but i havent got any response yet!

Basically, anything is allowed, as long as you don't use anything trademarked, copyrighted and/or patented. I've seen games in dumpstores which were direct rip-offs of existing games, but had different artwork, a different name, and, often, components of inferior quality. This is the legal side of things.

There is also an ethical side to the story. How much can you "borrow" from another game, before it is considered a rip-off? This is a difficult question, with a different answer, depending on who you ask. Personally, I think it is OK to use individual mechanics from games, as long as you use that mechanic in a different context, and/or in combination with other, different mechanics.

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut