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Magic the Gathering, WotC Patent Question

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Menthu
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Dear community,

I am currently thinking/working on a TCG with my girlfriend but there is something that is bothering me.

Lately I have seen some messages about WotC that has a patent on their Taping mec.

Since my english isnt my native language and the text shown on the patent page isnt really your daily english, I would like you, the community, to explain (if possible) what this patent actually says.

- Is it forbidden at all to Tap anything in a TCG?
- If I call it Spitting or whatever instead of Tap/Tapping, would it be legal then?
- Are their any requirements a TCG would need before this patent comes into play?

I think its clear what I would like to know. I think its not just me, but also others here on the forums who would like to know the ins and outs of this patent.

A big thanks in advance to the one that can clarify this is simple english so we all know what the rules are.

-Menthu

Willi B
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already been covered
Menthu
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Joined: 06/16/2009
My apologies for not

My apologies for not searching enough/right.

Thank you for this information.

-Menthu

mcwookie
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Kind of interesting...

I didn't realize how broad WoTC's "tapping" description was in their patent claim:

"Tapping" is an act of flagging the card to indicate to all players that the energy provided by the card is being used and is no longer available. This can be accomplished in various ways, including placing an object on the card, turning the card over or, more preferably, rotating the card counterclockwise approximately 90 degrees on the playing surface from an original orientation or position. Similarly, "untapping" means rotating the card 90 degrees in a clockwise direction to the original orientation or removing the flag symbol.

Full patent appears to be here.

Regardless, a lot of games use some sort of mechanic similar to tapping.

Clever Mojo Games
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Loophole?

Sounds like the only loophole is to turn the card clockwise when "tapped" instead of counterclockwise. ;-)

guildofblades
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Or placing and object "next

Or placing and object "next to" the card. Flipping the card over. Moving the card, without tapping, to a different position on the table or a different position in relation to some other card or object. Placing a card over top of another card. Placing the card onto top of an object instead of an object over top it. Having very specific "activation" or "used" counters to place next to or on top of (their placing an object on top of is pretty vague and broad, so something specific to the purpose and unique to the other game should work).

But yeah, lots of current games use some form of the tapping mechanic. They don't sue because they "know" just how broad reaching the patent text is. It would be challenging to have it tested in court. Its better to leave well enough alone and for it to be a feather in the Hasbro cap when showing off to potential investors, them being a public company and all.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group - http://www.gobretail.com
Guild of Blades Publishing Group - http://www.guildofblades.com
1483 Online - http://www.1483online.com

doho123
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Clever Mojo Games

Clever Mojo Games wrote:
Sounds like the only loophole is to turn the card clockwise when "tapped" instead of counterclockwise. ;-)

Yeah, well, you could TRY that, I suppose. But it probably wouldn't fly very well based on various "unobiviousness" traits that patent law should follow. Or "those skilled in the art".

//We tried something like this at work, once.
///When we explained our workaround to our patent lawyer, he was not amused.

Clever Mojo Games
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Just Kidding, Guys

I was just being facetious, guys. That's what the little winkie face was supposed to imply. I guess it's a measure of how oppressive this particular patent is that even jokes are hushed less they wake the beast with the itchy trigger finger. :-/

Willi B
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Use this ability once per turn...

problem solved.

Why spend $5000 to patent something that can easily be accomplished with a sentence like the one above? I don't get it.

Just put the above sentence in the text and let players get creative... if they "tap" the card, then they do so... it's no longer your worry.

InvisibleJon
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Is depletion of a resource a critical part of tapping?

"Tapping" is an act of flagging the card to indicate to all players that the energy provided by the card is being used and is no longer available.

So if you're modifying the card's physical state to indicate that the resource has been re-charged and is available to the player, that's not tapping? What if you're indicating a change in state that had no bearing on availability of resources?

For example: I'm making a game for a friend where you have to feed cats. Every turn, sated cats get hungry (go from being landscape style to portrait style) and hungry cats become famished (go from being face-up to face-down). The card state alteration is not to indicate loss of a resource, but a change in state of being.

(BTW: I'm not looking for validation of my use of state change in cards. I'm just making a semantic observation about this particular quote from the patent text. If depletion of a resource is a core component in the definition of tapping, that's interesting to note.)

truekid games
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the patent expires in 4

the patent expires in 4 years, doesn't it?

Menthu
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No, it doesnt. A new patent

No, it doesnt.

A new patent was issued in 1999.

truekid games
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my understanding is that it's

my understanding is that it's virtually impossible to renew a patent, what's different about the '99 patent over the original?

Menthu
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truekid games wrote:my

truekid games wrote:
my understanding is that it's virtually impossible to renew a patent, what's different about the '99 patent over the original?

My mistake. The http://www.google.com/patents?vid=5662332 was issued in 1997. I think the patents is this category last 14 years. So september 2011 will be the end. Not sure about the 14 years tho.

-Menthu

larienna
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Fantasy Flight games

In many fanttasy flight games they exaust cards by flipping them face down. In theory it is a way to mark that a resource has been depleted but it's not a collectible cards game.

So I was wondering if you need to AND or OR the conditions:

Must be a CCG AND use tapping
Must be a CCG OR use tapping

If it's a OR, than FFG should play royalties.

If let say I design a "non-collectible" and/or "design your own cards" card game and the condition above use a AND. It means that I could use the tapping mechanic because my game is not a CCG/TCG. Else I can't.

------------------------------------------

Expiration: Of course, all patents have an expiration date. It's just to pay back the development cost of the company (which were probably not very high). So we should eventually see ending it soon. That means that I could make a commercial remake of "Duel Masters like" kind of game.

-------------------------------------------

I know that computer programmers wanted to prevent creating patents on programming algorithms because it made no sense to patent a logical thinking. It's like if you were patenting the "addition" and each time somebody add 2 numbers together you need to pay a royalty.

So do you think that it should be the same for game mechanics?

Normally the concept of a patent is to allow the company to payback it's development fees on a product. Could we say that we have a lot of development fees in developing a game mechanic? Don't think so.

InvisibleJon
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Toys, toy-like games, and games...

larienna wrote:
Normally the concept of a patent is to allow the company to payback it's development fees on a product. Could we say that we have a lot of development fees in developing a game mechanic? Don't think so.
I could see development fees being larger for a game mechanic that uses a specific toy or physical prop. You'd have prototyping fees, focus group and study fees, CIPSA compliance fees, and so on.

I agree that for your average game mechanic, justifying patenting as a means of recouping development costs is silly. For toys, and game with toy-like components, I think it's a little more justifiable.

ReelHotGames
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Time

larienna wrote:
Normally the concept of a patent is to allow the company to payback it's development fees on a product. Could we say that we have a lot of development fees in developing a game mechanic? Don't think so.

Except time. And time is a commodity not to be taken lightly when creating your own game for market. If you invest hours of every day, months of every year and years making your game - that is a commodity worth protecting. And hopefully profiting from. Because the commodity itself will never bne recouped - but you can make it fiscally worth while if that time was well spent and a great product comes from it.

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