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Crayon Rail Mechanic - Copyrighted by Mayfair?

2 replies [Last post]
Joined: 09/02/2008


I'm currently developing a transport themed board game, centering around railways and shipping for the first version. My design consists of a hex grid with a centre dot. In reviewing options for tile laying, stick laying and other options, I prefer the erasable track concept for rails and eventually roads. My question is... is this mechanic copyrighted in any way by Mayfair? I know it's been used in other games, but I'm wondering if I'd be better off using something else?

Dan M.

Rick-Holzgrafe's picture
Joined: 07/22/2008
Should be okay

I am not a lawyer, but I think the answer to this is pretty clear. Copyright is for text and art, not for procedures and mechanisms. The notion of drawing on a gameboard can't be copyrighted. It could conceivably be patented, but to the best of my knowledge it hasn't been. Only a few game mechanics have ever been patented, and these patents have been discussed to death on BGG and BGDF; the crayon rail system has never been mentioned.

As support of this, you point out yourself that a number of other games use the same mechanism (Funkenschlag, the predecessor to Power Grid, is one; Roads and Boats is another). In fact, you can search BGG for games that use the "crayon rail" mechanism, by going to BGG's "Advanced Game Search" page and selecting that option under the Mechanics section. Here's a link to the results, listing over 40 games most of which were not published by Mayfair.

So I don't think you need to worry about it.

Joined: 09/02/2008

Didn't think so, but doesn't hurt to check.

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