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CCG / TCG Patent enforcement

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bentnormal
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Joined: 12/31/1969

Hi Everyone, long time reader, first time poster. This community is a fantastic resource, thank you!

I'm in the early stages of developing my first(!) multi-player strategy game that was originally conceived as a Collectable Trading Card Game. But after a cursory read of WotC's patents, I am a little reluctant to pursue such a route.

My game has not gestated to a point where I can give details yet, I am still working those out. The premise has absolutely nothing to do with wizards, pirates and anything else fantasy, but I have been told it's a unique idea w/ market potential and worth pursuing... so here I am :)

My questions are:

* Has WotC vigrously enforced these patents?

* Have they _ever_ been enforced? I know there was a Pokeymon lawsuit a few years ago, before the takeover, but what about the little guys?

* Does anyone on this board know of any designers receiving Cease and Diciest letters regarding the basic mechanics of the Collectable and Deck Building aspect of the game?

* One other mechanic I was toying with was designing the game like the Constructable CG. Does anyone know if WizKids has a patent on the basic mechanic of constructing games from die cut plastic/pvc cards?

Thanks again, hopefully soon I'll have it hammered out for peer review!

VeritasGames
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Joined: 08/01/2008
Re: CCG / TCG Patent enforcement

bentnormal wrote:
* Has WotC vigrously enforced these patents?

No.

Quote:

* Does anyone on this board know of any designers receiving Cease and Diciest letters regarding the basic mechanics of the Collectable and Deck Building aspect of the game?

Diciest? Grin. Desist.

Yes. Decipher has gotten one. And they effectively shrugged it off, because they ALSO have a CCG-related patent.

Fleer published Ophidian. Ophidian has its own CCG-related patent.

Apparently either the patent office is incompetent, or else it is strongly convinced that each CCG patent extends to the specific methods of a specific CCG rather than to all possible methods of all possible CCGs. I strongly suspect the latter, since many of these patents actually mention earlier patents in their list of related patents.

So, if you made a Magic clone you might get busted. But if you make a CCG with your own mechanics, you could probably even file for your own patent if it was sufficiently novel.

If you ever get sued, let me know. Wizards knew I was a designer and was interested in working on products with them. They sent me a full overview of Magic, in writing, with pictures of prototype cards, more than one year prior to their patent filing. I am NOT a patent attorney, but from what I've heard, that makes a patent filing dead on arrival. It can't be a method known to the public and particularly not to others in the same industry more than a year prior to your filing according to what I've been told on the subject. This is something that gets challenged in court and that the patent office is often unaware of when a patent is issued.

Quote:
Does anyone know if WizKids has a patent on the basic mechanic of constructing games from die cut plastic/pvc cards?

Check their packages and their models. Buy a booster of Pirates. If they've got a patent on it, dollars to donuts it's listed on their product. If I had to offer a wild guess without buying Pirates or Rocketmen and if I were too lazy to do a patent search on the USPTO website, I'd say they don't have a patent on all types of constructable miniatures games. Because I think that there are now multiple such games on the market from multiple people. But that is not a researched answer (busy right now).

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
CCG / TCG Patent enforcement

There's an older company that's been pushing punch-out-and-assemble miniatures for a lot longer than PotSM, years longer, so it's unlikely WizKids has a patent on it. That other company might, but I kinda doubt that. Those punch-out-and-assemble minis have been in Kinder Eggs for years, and I seem to recall them in CrackerJacks as well.

Now whether there's a separate patent for using them in a collectible game... well, it's certainly possible, I suppose. Just searching the USPTO for WizKids would be a good start (not finding a patent that way certainly doesn't rule it out as the search is far from perfect and it could be under many other names), but if you do find it then you'll have an affirative answer, anyway.

Discord
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Joined: 12/31/1969
CCG / TCG Patent enforcement

Well, that's good news. :)

My DISCORD CCG _is_ rather Magic derivative, but I'll be releasing that game for free. It's essentially my apprenticeship game, and an exercise in making the game closer to the actual "backstory". (It always bothered me that these Planeswalkers couldn't move, let alone change planes, in the midst of battle)

STRIFE, my second game, should be complete-ly different from the basics of MtG...so hopefully it'll have some marketing potential without lawsuit worries.

Discord

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
CCG / TCG Patent enforcement

Does anybody have a mini list of all the patents regarding CCG. I know that there is the tapping mechanics by wizards of the coast but that's all I know. It could be a good thing to know when you want to design a CCG yourself.

bentnormal
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Joined: 12/31/1969
CCG / TCG Patent enforcement

Thanks for the info everyone!

Quote:
Diciest?

heh.. guess I had dice on my mind.

Quote:
searching the USPTO for WizKids would be a good start (not finding

I should have mentioned that I did an online search re: wizkids, although if it's a pending patent it wouldn't be in the database. I also should have mentioned that I also did purchase both the Pirates and Race Day booster packs. Sure enough "Patent Pending" or any other mention of patents was absent. Apparently the cut-out idea is not necessarily a novel, but rather a novel implementation (which I believe is patentable). Honestly, I'd be surprised if Wk did not pursue a patent on P/Rday/Rocket. For a company as large as they are, and big entertainment name tie-in's (Pirates movie, NASCAR), I would suspect patent filings would be relatively cheap insurance on those deals.

For all we know, maybe WizKids is paying someone else a royalty for using the cutout design :)

Quote:
Does anybody have a mini list of all the patents regarding CCG.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collectible_card_game

describes at least three of the patents. I have not given them the attention they require yet, but you can search the prior art and other categories for similiar patents.

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
CCG / TCG Patent enforcement

On patenting and WizKids, the power of their positioning and distribution gives them tremendous leeway. With appropriate planning and marketing they can have a half-dozen expansions out before a competitor has a single game that uses their system, and the play lifespan of the system will nearly be up.

Not saying they didn't patent some aspect of PotSM, just that the possibility of someone copying it before they get 90% of its value wrung out of an idea is pretty low, and that therefore they're not in much danger of effective IP theft.

-- Matthew

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