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Dear Experts, Dreamers & Muses,

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Anonymous

I have some techinical questions?

I have gone through the trials and fantasies and my game has now taking it's final form!...........it has been a marathon but I think I am getting there;... far from the finish but far far away from the start!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have asked the UK patent office how long it will take to get a patent processed they said 2-4 years, is that for real, or does it depend on the originality of my game?

Can I put in for a patent and still present my idea to a publisher without the fear of getting turned over?

Anonymous
Dear Experts, Dreamers & Muses,

I'm not a lawyer and I don't know the ifrst thing about UK laws, but I can imagine that the patent process could well take several years. I know that there is a long process involved in getting a patent here in the US.

In addition to long, the process (including attorney's fees) will also be very expensive (likely several thousand pounds).

The advice that I have seen here and elsewhere is that you really don't need a patent for your game (and that a patent really won't protect you very much). Unless your game uses a highly unique device (yes, device, I doubt there are very many game mechanics that would be eligible for a patent), then this would be a waste of time and money for you.

You are as well protected as you can be with a copyright on your game rules and artwork (board, cards, etc.). That will give you the protection you need when playtesting or submitting your game to a publisher.

(DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer and the contents of this post are not legal advice. Seek the advice and help of a competent lawyer that is qualified and legally capable of practicing law in your area.)

MattMiller
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Dear Experts, Dreamers & Muses,

I don't think it makes sense for a private individual to patent a game design.

I have a lot of patents on software algorithms (I work in a corporate research lab). I'd say two years is a typical amount of time to wait, regardless of whether you're patenting in the US, Europe, Japan, or China. One year would be fast.

A base cost for filing a patent in the US is about $2000. If your application needs ammending before it can issue -- and they all do -- it'll go up from there.

Getting a patent is also a lot of work. First, you have to write up a description of your invention in legalese. Then you have to list a collection of "claims" -- specific ideas you want the patent to protect. All this requires the input of lawyers, 'cause regular people can't talk and think the way lawyers do. Next you send this all off to the patent office, and twiddle your thumbs for a year. Eventually, they'll send back a reply citing some prior work that they think described some or all of your claims, and you have to read all the stuff they cite and either a) modify your claims to specify the difference between what they did and what you're doing, b) explain to the patent examiner that there's a difference he didn't see, or c) throw out some of the claims. All this, again, must be done with a lawyer's help. Usually, it takes several iterations before the patent gets bashed into a form that the examiner will accept. At this point, the patent issues, and you receive a whole lot of junk mail offering mugs and plaques and so on with the first page of your patent on them.

Once you have a patent, there's the question of what you can do with it (beyond putting it on a mug). A patent is only as good as your preparedness to defend it in court. If somebody violates the thing, you have to sue them. If that somebody is a big rich company like Hasbro, you'll go broke long before you can win the lawsuit. If it's a little company that you can afford to sue, they probably aren't making any money off the stolen game anyway.

And then there's the fact that game designs are almost never stolen.

If you want some kind of legal protection, I'd suggest you do two things: 1) put a copyright notice on every copy of your game (you can probably find a web site that'll tell you the proper form for this), and 2) mail yourself a copy of the game, leaving the envelope sealed after you get it. In most countries, the post mark will be legal evidence that you had this game on the date that it shows. Doing these things'll cost you next to nothing, and, under US law at least, they'll help protect your copyright (that is, they'll protect the expression of your ideas, rather than the ideas themselves).

-- Matt

P.S. Please keep in mind that I am not a lawyer.

Anonymous
Thanks for your considerate replies

Thanks for your detailed replies, I will follow up all that you mentioned. I was worried there for a minute that I would have to bin all the hours (& months) I've put in on my idea's......Cheers

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