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Patents and Game Design

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Anonymous

Hi, I'm new to this forum so I'll give a brief introduction. I've been involved in the RPG for almost 5 years as a small press publisher, artist, and designer. My company, The Inner Circle, has produced one print book and several PDF Products. Recently we've had an interest in creating boardgames, so that's why I'm here. To my question...

We've been working on the concept for a new type of miniature boardgame for almost a year, and we recently stumbled on something vaguely similar that has a pending patent on it. Should we scrap our idea and start from scratch? What does a patent actually protect?

Without giving away what we are doing, the game is called Nin-Gonost and is available from Adiken. You can get info on the game of you visit: http://www.adiken.com/Nin/Nin-Gonost_en.htm You'll notice at the bottom of the page, it states they have a pending patent.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Jeffrey J. Visgaitis
The Inner Circle
www.icirclegames.com

Anonymous
Patents and Game Design

First of all, I'm no lawyer. Second of all, I try not to be a quitter... and that'd be my advice to you, too. Don't give up on your dream. If you feel strongly about your game idea, and feel it offers unique gameplay experience to a game already on the market, go for it.

Conversely, perhaps this is an opportunity for a mutually beneficial business relationship. You may wish to contact Adiken and let them know how much you enjoy their game, and that you had been in the process of developing a comparable game -- perhaps you have ideas for rules, supplements, content or expansions they might be interested in. Who knows, stranger things have happened!

braincog
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patents and Game Design

Having gone through the process of getting a patent on a game myself, I wouldn't be too pessimistic. There are TONS of game patents, many of which are not too different from another, so the precedent exists that the burden of "uniqueness" is not terribly hard to meet. That said, without having actually looked at the patent or your game, I can't be sure.

Chances are though, if you carefully review the claims of the pending patent, you'll find that your game offers something unique and nonobvious. Or, you'll have an idea for modifying your game a bit so that it does.

If you're convinced that your game would infringe the other patent AND you think you'll be able to sell lots of copies AND you think the patent holder will go to the trouble of suing you for infringement when you do, then exploring the joint venture idea may be your best bet.

Bill

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patents and Game Design

Braincog points out the similarity of many game patents, which for me brings up another point: it's not clear if patents on game concepts (utility) protect anything at all. I've been hunting around for a long time now to find any cases where someone successfully sued for patent infringement of their (non-mechanical) game idea, but haven't found anything yet.

Of course whether the patent actually provides protection might well be moot, as much of the time it's the threat of a lawsuit and the attendant attorney and court costs that changes behavior, not the validity of the suit.

-- Matthew

Anonymous
Patents and Game Design

Well, from my research into patents, I'm not going to worry about it. The game I am creating uses magnets in an unusal way, and while not unique, I have seen other companies create games similar in utility so no worries here. :-)

Draconious
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Patents and Game Design

There are a few dungeon sets that use magnets to assemble the dungeons... i dont recall many. I my self was going to do it, cuz I had a magnet source for super strong magnets, I was even going to sell custom magnets from a web page, but I never realy got around to it, only sold off, one type of magnet for a motor related to one of my other hobbies...

any way... if its different enough... keep producing it... most of those dungeon sets I see, cost too much... I wanted to produce one just to make it cost less... but mine woulda been raw abs plastic.. etc...

There is dwarven fordge or whatever the dungeon is called, and a bunch more wizard something...

Anonymous
Patents and Game Design

You know, now that you mentioned other magnetic dungeon sets you have set my mind at great ease. I remember a set called Dungeon Works which was released a long time ago. That quells all my fears. Thanks again!

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