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copyright vrs trademark

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plick
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hello ive been designing a game for a while now and am in the final process of it.
one questinon do i have to copyrignt it costing me 10000$ (5000us/5000canada) or just trademark it.it is a totally origanal game and i wish to sell it to a big company for royaltys

Zzzzz
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plick, Take a look at the

plick,

Take a look at the BGDF page about copyrights and patents.

http://www.bgdf.com/node/538

(I just moved this over from the archive site)

plick
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thanx

hhhmmm thanx now im really not sure what to do. i do know my game is one of a kind and its a game me and all the peaple i know would buy but not sure if i should spend the cake on it just to sell it. well ill rework out some more kinks before i decide

benshelmars
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Some agents

Some agents won't even show your game without a copyright, so thats how that goes, and even when you do get your materials copyrighted, this does not mean a sale of your game or games. Sometimes this can be a hassle when you have a lot of works but the real reason, at least for agents, is so you don't drag them to court with accusations of stealing "your" idea.
Read the post "Copyrights and Patents" by Zzzzz for a better understanding of this subject.

Dralius
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are you sure

plick wrote:
hhhmmm thanx now im really not sure what to do. i do know my game is one of a kind and its a game me and all the peaple i know would buy but not sure if i should spend the cake on it just to sell it. well ill rework out some more kinks before i decide

In the past I have designed game which I though were brilliant and totally original to find out that there were so brilliant that someone else just had to design the same thing 5 years before me. We had never met and I was unaware of their game but this still happens, it’s called parallel development.

Since we all are members of the same world wide society and often subject to the same influences; Literature, TV, Movies, etc.. We often create what is not so different then others with similar experiences.

Take a look at the 35,000+ games at www.boardgamegeek.com use the advanced search to see what is out there that might have similar aspects. For example if your game has a race element then search the race games to see what might touch on the same idea you had. (It’s a big job) If you find something similar don’t be discouraged. I see plenty of prototyped games each year, many of which are in professional development. Of these several have a unique use of mechanics, usually using mechanics in combinations that have an original bent to them. What I never see is a game that is entirely unique.

P.S. the $5,000 may eat up you royalties

dannorder
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copyrights, trademarks, patents and reality

plick wrote:
one questinon do i have to copyrignt it costing me 10000$ (5000us/5000canada) or just trademark it.

Where is this number even coming from? That's not what registering a copyright costs.

Further, you don't have to *register* a copyright for something to still be copyrighted. In most countries merely creating something in fixed form (written down, illustrated, whatever) already gives you a copyright on it for free with no forms to fill out. But you have to be aware that copyrights do not protect ideas, themes, methods, titles, etc., they only cover full compositions (text of game rules, illustration of board or box cover). Someone else can always take the name or have something similar in the gameplay and there's nothing you can do about it without a trademark or patent.

Trademarks are for short words or phrases (titles or slogans) or images (logos) or sometimes other very distinctive things (particular short bit of music for a jingle, specific color used on narrow product lines like pink insulation). They also come from your actions (actively marketing something under a very specific name or image in a specific market), and even if you paid for a trademark registration you wouldn't have one unless you were advertising it and doing business under that name/image. If you have a game that's not for sale yet, or not advertised as being released soon, you can't have a trademark on it. And someone else could come out with a similar game with a different name, as long as it doesn't confuse people.

Patents are for covering very specific procedures that are totally unique and new. They're almost impossible to get for games,. To be honest, I don't know that any of the patents that have ever been given to games should have been under the law, as none of the ons I have heard about seem to be particularly innovative. Mostly they are used to create nuisance lawsuits: a trick by people who want to succeed by lawyers instead of marketing or making a good product. Unless you're willing to toss lots of money to pay for a pipe dream and have a legal team in the wings waiting to threaten people, there's no point.

plick wrote:
it is a totally origanal game and i wish to sell it to a big company for royaltys

It sounds like you have an extremely unrealistic view of how this all works. Odds are that it's not totally original, and whatever royalties you would get if it were accepted by a company would likely not match the kind of money you think you need to spend to protect it.

But good luck.

InvisibleJon
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I've licensed a game that is protected by "default" copyright.

Howdy,

My understanding is that any creative work created in the U.S. (books, plays, games, etc.) is automatically protected by copyright. I suspect that this is true in Canada also. I've relied on this version of copyright for every game I've produced.

I recently was fortunate enough to have a company license one of my games. The game was not "officially" copyrighted when I showed it to them, and I have not taken any special steps to copyright it since.

Unless your game uses an unusual prop which could be patented, or an innovative overall mechanical system which could be trademarked, I would not worry about an "official" copyright. I believe that the standard "default" copyright should be sufficient.

[Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor am I much of a game professional. I'm just some dude on the internet. Please keep this in mind when you're considering the value of my comments.]

Best of luck,

Jonathan

PS: Of the over 100+ games I've made, there's only one that I think legitimately needs a patent before I show it 'round. Pursuing a patent is not fun. In fact, it's been a real pain. It's slowed me down and been very disruptive to my creative process. If you don't need to get involved with legalese and paperwork, I recommend avoiding it if you can. - JAL

Katherine
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InvisibleJon wrote: Pursuing

InvisibleJon wrote:

Pursuing a patent is not fun. In fact, it's been a real pain. It's slowed me down and been very disruptive to my creative process. If you don't need to get involved with legalese and paperwork, I recommend avoiding it if you can. - JAL

Well said InvisibleJon, I second the recommendation!

The Magician
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I have a question of weather

I have a question of weather something in my game is crossing the line of copyrights. Has anyone played the game Heroquest? It is a fantasy game with a dungion game board. It has tokens like (a staircase token for player start, brick wall tokens for placement where an area of the board is blocked off, and various trap tokens).

The fantasy game I am creating has a board that is my own original design. It's a big labyrinth, and not copying Heroquest board. However, the tockens such as a staircase for starting out and brick wall tockens for blocking off areas of the board are exactly what I want to use for the game. These are elements that have inspired me from Heroquest. Is that breaking copyrights?
Thanks in advance for any feedback would be apreciated.

MusedFable
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The Magician wrote:I have a

The Magician wrote:
I have a question of weather something in my game is crossing the line of copyrights. Has anyone played the game Heroquest? It is a fantasy game with a dungion game board. It has tokens like (a staircase token for player start, brick wall tokens for placement where an area of the board is blocked off, and various trap tokens).

The fantasy game I am creating has a board that is my own original design. It's a big labyrinth, and not copying Heroquest board. However, the tockens such as a staircase for starting out and brick wall tockens for blocking off areas of the board are exactly what I want to use for the game. These are elements that have inspired me from Heroquest. Is that breaking copyrights?
Thanks in advance for any feedback would be apreciated.


I'm not a lawyer, but what you're asking isn't even close to breaking copyright.

Copyright covers the exact text in the Heroquest rulebook, and the exact art used on the staircase and stones. Game mechanics can't be copyrighted. Using tokens in a board game is wide spread and can't be copyrighted, trademarked, or patented (unless a patent clerk approves another unenforceable patent). There are numerous games that use them to block movement. A staircase to enter a dungeon has been used in many boardgames, videogames, books, movies, etc. It's not something that is remotely close to intellectual property.

InvisibleJon
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A clarification...

MusedFable wrote:
The Magician wrote:
[T]he tokens such as a staircase for starting out and brick wall tockens for blocking off areas of the board are exactly what I want to use for the game. These are elements that have inspired me from Heroquest. Is that breaking copyrights?
I'm not a lawyer, but what you're asking isn't even close to breaking copyright.

Copyright covers the exact text in the Heroquest rulebook, and the exact art used on the staircase and stones. Game mechanics can't be copyrighted. Using tokens in a board game is wide spread and can't be copyrighted, trademarked, or patented (unless a patent clerk approves another unenforceable patent).

I agree, but would like to emphasize a point being made here: You can use tokens to mark a staircase or place a blocking wall, but you can not use the exact art from Heroquest. If you want to use the tokens with the exact art, and you want to distribute the game (for free or for profit) you need to get their permission. Using art without permission violates copyright.

bluepantherllc
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Patents, copyrights and trademarks

If you are concerned about someone stealing an idea while you shop it around to publishers, you could ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Not all publishers will.

Here in the shallow end of the game publishing pool, where us little guys play, filing for a copyright makes sense - at least in the countries where you expect sales to be large (e.g. US, Canada, most European countries). You do, in theory, have a copyright for everything you create once you write it down or print it out. Hard to enforce in practice - especially with "similar" ideas. We publish a game, that after research was done on it, we were satisfied was original enough to publish. We publish it and a few folks on BGG say it is just like another game or two out there. They're right and they're wrong too - it's LIKE another game out there, but it is not EXACTLY LIKE the other games out there. There's enough differences to make it unique. We have a copyright on this particular expression of a game idea. Defending this point of view in court would easily cost more than all the copies we've sold of the game.

If it's something you think will sell, then officially filing for a copyright makes sense. It's also useful in situations for establishing ownership or licensing. Most publishers want your design and the copyright on it. Yes, it's your baby, and you put years of blood, sweat and tears into it, but it's their money.

Trademarks are best for something unique that will be used often - like a company logo or a tag line for a series of games.

Patents, in the world of boardgames, are almost always about protecting the market share of the big guys. There is a patent on "tapping" in Magic. That's right - turning a card 90 degrees sideways to indicate it has been used is patented. "Constructible" games - all those games that are made out of the same stuff as your credit card are also patented. I have to admit the idea of going to a credit-card style mfg is inspired - you can get high volume from a bunch of different manufacturers for low cost - but the only thing really "new" is the idea of cutting out a shape that isn't exactly the same as a credit card. We've done this for centuries with steel, leather and wood - but doing it with plastic is apparently new and useful enough to merit a patent. Some items are not covered by patent protection (say a certain popular wordgame), but they have trademark and copyright lawyers all over them to ensure that no one copies it (e.g. the recent "Scrabulous" issues).

SJ

stevem
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A UK perspective

Not that it's going to help plick, but for the benefit of anyone reading this from the UK, the laws are slightly different and I would strongly recommend getting hold of an intellectual property attorney to handle this sort of stuff for you. It ended up costing me about £550 total to trademark my game. Not so expensive really, if you're taking your product seriously, but do keep an eye on how the charges are adding up, and make sure you know what's being charged for you. I found out that you can't "just ring up for a quick update" without paying handsomely for it :)

I think I could do it myself next time, but since I didn't know the ropes at all first time around, it seemed like a good idea to get someone in who knew what they were doing. (Standard disclaimer at this point: really, take professional advice. I'm not a lawyer either, this is just what I've picked up, and your mileage may vary.)

In the UK you don't need to register your copyright with a third-party; it's enough to just publish your stuff in some form, and claim the copyright by putting, for example, "© 2009 Point Zero Games Ltd." on your materials. If you want to be ultra careful, put the stuff in an envelope and send it through the post to yourself of your solicitor, and make sure it stays sealed when it arrives. Then if it comes to it later, you've got proof that you published yours first.

I considered a patent application, but really there's nothing in my game that needs patenting; if you have something that original, then good for you, but according to my IP attorney it can take YEARS to have your patent approved, and in my case, it wouldn't even have helped.

A good thing about getting your trademark is that not only are you protected from someone ripping you off, but the trademark application process also helps you to avoid inadvertently stepping on someone else's toes. The computer game manufacturer Electronic Arts sent me a letter because they have a long-standing trademark for a computer game that has a name not a million miles from my card game. We agreed that I wouldn't upset them by moving into computer games and everything was straightforward and professional, but if I had gone ahead without registering, things might have subsequently got a bit messy, who knows? It's better to be covered on this stuff, I suggest, unless you have the resources and the stomach for a legal battle.

I've also been told that distributors are much more happy to take you on if they can see that there aren't going to be any nasty legal problems.

One more thing: if you're going to apply for trademark, do it as soon as you can. Even once you've sorted things out with your attorney, it takes the UK Intellectual Property Office three months to process your application (this three-month period is designed to give other trademark owners a chance to object), and then they add on another week or so just to make sure that no paperwork got lost down the back of a filing cabinet (or something). This actually caused a delay for me in getting to print - I didn't want to start the presses rolling until the trademark got approved, although my IP attorney tells me that sometimes manufacturers do that if getting to market quickly is important, with their fingers firmly crossed that a late objection won't be forthcoming.

Hope this helps (someone)

Steve
http://www.pointzerogames.com

The Magician
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the tokens

Thank you for the feedback guys,

I understand what your saying. I am planning to paint and create my own artwork. However what makes it different when your doing a silmple wall token or stairs? Paint the bricks a slightly different tone and different brick arrangement than Heroquest? How defferent is different when painting a little staircase tile? Thanks

ReneWiersma
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The Magician wrote:Thank you

The Magician wrote:
Thank you for the feedback guys,

I understand what your saying. I am planning to paint and create my own artwork. However what makes it different when your doing a silmple wall token or stairs? Paint the bricks a slightly different tone and different brick arrangement than Heroquest? How defferent is different when painting a little staircase tile? Thanks

I wouldn't lose any sleep over this. Just make new tile art and you'll be fine. It's not like the Hasbro lawyers will come knocking on your door because your game uses a wall tile that is slightly similar to the one in HeroQuest.

MusedFable
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The Magician wrote:Thank you

The Magician wrote:
Thank you for the feedback guys,

I understand what your saying. I am planning to paint and create my own artwork. However what makes it different when your doing a silmple wall token or stairs? Paint the bricks a slightly different tone and different brick arrangement than Heroquest? How defferent is different when painting a little staircase tile? Thanks

The issue you're thinking about it "derivative work". Since the idea of a token isn't intellectual property, and the idea of brick pattern isn't intellectual property; then the only thing you could be derivative of is the copyright they hold on the exact artwork on the token.

In order to be derivative in that instance you'd have to actually use there art to some extent. If you scanned it and just changed the color it might be derivative. If you stared at the token and tried to copy the look when making your own art it might be derivative.

If you just make some art of a brick pattern; then it isn't even remotely close to being derivative. A piece of art that small and generic is really hard to make derivative without actually copying the original.

devin
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help

kay im 12 i have made board games from when i was 6 and i made one that i was working on one and my dad and most of my friends and 1 or to other people they loved it and i would like to now how to copyright it cheap

Traz
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copyright is cheap

I've only ever bothered to copyright [through the copyright office] one game.

One.

It cost me $35 as I recall. You send in the rules [which include images of all the pieces, the board, examples of play, etc], and that's what you copyright. It's a simple process - I was able to do it on my own.

If you're really worried about it, just do this. Your copyright will allow you to get any publisher to cease and desist if they attempt to steal your stuff because the ensuing lawsuit you will create will eat any profit they might ever see. More likely they will offer to pay you what they should have in the first place or just drop the project altogether - in which case you will never see any money at all because no one will ever touch it with a 10 foot pole. You won't be able to self publish, because they might sue you - and there will go any money YOU might ever get.

If you ever think you've ever created something that special, just copyright it. But the chances of that happening are slim - like I said, I've only EVER done one, and that's because some of the folks I showed it to think it might eventually be published in tabletop and electronic format. But the reality down the road is - I still haven't had the courage to show it to anybody...

Dude - it's a funny business. :-)

ReneWiersma
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You don't need to copyright

You don't need to copyright or trademark or patent your game.

You *can* copyright it if you want to, but it is not absolutely necessary in order to protect your game. Your game is copyrighted by default. You must realize that a copyright only protects the actual words and images of the game. It doesn't protect you from someone using the game's exact mechanics with different images and rewritten rules (you'd need a patent for protecting mechanics, but... read on). Registering the copyright just makes things easier to prove it in court, if need be. I guess there's a 0,001% chance that this will ever come in handy. My risk vs cost assessment is that registering the copyright is not worth it, but if it saves you some sleepless nights, you might want to register it anyway, as it is not terribly expensive (around $30 or so, I heard).

Trademarking or patenting is something you definately should not do. Trademarking is for protecting a specific title, name or brand. For example, Pepsi[TM]. The [TM] is for TradeMark, you see. As your game is not published yet, and doesn't have a specific name or title, you don't have to worry about that. If it ever gets published, let the publisher worry about it. If you publish it yourself, you probably still won't bother with a trademark, as it is too expensive, and your brand name / game title is probably not worth enough to protect it.

Patenting is for protecting specific ideas or mechanics. You might patent some specific game mechanic, or mechanical gadgets (if your game uses any). It costs a ton of time and money and whether it actually protects you from someone using a similar idea remains to be seen. Just stay far away from patents, unless you have something truly, truly magnificently groundbreaking, and the chance of that being true is so small, just stay away from patents, K ;)?

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