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Implementing board games


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#1 RudolfVonKrugstein   Members   -  Reputation: 205

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 04:36 PM

Hey,

 

I am a fan of board games. I am thinking of implementing board games for mobile devices.

 

I would use existing board games, which I like and which seem to fit to me. I do not think that renaming the game would make sense. Probably one would call it something like "<original name> mobile". I would make my own media, which would be inspired by the original board game.

 

I would of course contact the author and ask him if he is ok with this, but what is my legal position? Am I allowed to "copy" an existing board game onto the computer? Or would I need some legalization from the author?

 

I have a second related question, which is not about law but I am asking for "moral" opinions.

I had this Idea a while ago and contacted an author of a board game. I did not get any reply.

Assuming I am legally allowed to do so, would you think it is OK to go ahead and implement the game anyway?

 

I would somehow monetize the game (I have no plan yet how) trying to pay me for the work.

 

Thanks for you knowledge and thoughts!

Rudolf


Edited by RudolfVonKrugstein, 21 July 2013 - 04:37 PM.


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#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 16204

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 05:47 PM

Get permission.



That is all there is to it. Get permission or don't do it.



The fact that they did not reply does not grant a legal waiver. For example, if you wrote to Hasbro and asked them if you could clone Risk, their lack of reply does not mean you can go ahead and make a clone. That means they have evidence that you know your actions were likely infringing; in many court cases that means an automatic 3X the maximum damages.

Making an unauthorized direct clone of a board game would be a violation of many forms of IP. Trademark law applies to the names of everything, copyrights apply to visual elements, trade dress laws, unfair competition laws, and a wide varieties of other laws apply to the game. Naming it "<game name> mobile" would also be a trademark violation.



If you intend to clone a specific game, make sure you have proper written permission from the owner. This will almost certainly involve lawyers, contracts, in-person visits, and an exchange of money. Negotiation of permission is something that requires a lawyer to represent you. There are many different things that need to be included in the contract. If something important is forgotten, bad things can happen.



Making a new game in the form of another is possible but be careful. For example, there are many Monopoly clones, but it is a very risky area. You will need to invest in some serious lawyer-time to make sure you don't violate their rights, and then when the inevitable lawsuit or C&D order comes, you will need to discuss the specific claims with your lawyer to make sure you are in the clear. Even then the existing company can take you to court, and win or lose it will be expensive.


If you cannot negotiate permission, make something new and creative of your own.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#3 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4362

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 07:03 PM

A little while ago, I had to go straight to a board game developer to negotiate the terms of trying to make a mobile version.

He gave me his blessing, but only provided he'd be able to direct production every step of the way with comments and whatnot.

If you try to develop an existing property for a new platform, chances are they'll hereby become your client.

Chances are also they'll want a (large) portion of the revenues.

Chances are they won't pay you (much).

Chances are this isn't such a good idea afterall.

Why not make your own then?



#4 RudolfVonKrugstein   Members   -  Reputation: 205

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 05:17 AM

Hey,

 

 

The board game I would like to implement is a zero-sum that is well balanced and fun. In my opinion something difficult to make. And I think it would be nice to have a mobile version of it.

But well, I am not going through so much trouble for it.

 

Thanks for the clear replies!
Nathan


#5 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2545

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 08:40 AM


But well, I am not going through so much trouble for it.

 

It still doesn't hurt to at least ask the IP holder for their thoughts. Their reply might be negative or overly stringent...but it is also possible that you may receive a positive result. Either way making such initial steps are not that much trouble.



#6 bschmidt1962   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1649

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 11:33 AM

This is the value of the Brand...

 

The problem is that there are 200,000 games on the app store, and no one has ever heard of 199,000 of them.

But tens or hundreds of millions have heard of "Risk" or "Stratego", "mousetrap" etc.

 

So if were to for example, make a Stratego game, the value of the brand would be 90% of the value of the game and your implementation would be 10% of the value.

If it's a popular game, they probably have had multiple offers to make their game for mobile.

I presume you've checked to see if this game is already available?

 

If not, then I'd definitely contact them.  They may be a small enough game that they'd like to see their property ported to mobile.  A somewhat riskier plan would be to go ahead and make the game, but not use any of their artwork, names, logos, etc.  Then contact them and say that you have a finished "zero sum" game, ready for market, but that you'd like to talk to them about branding your game with their property.  That can be more attractive for a small/medium sized brand, since they don't have to take your word that you'll make the game--you've already done it.  Yep, that's riskier (because if they say no then you may be stuck), but, hey, business is about taking risks.


Edited by bschmidt1962, 22 July 2013 - 03:22 PM.

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#7 RudolfVonKrugstein   Members   -  Reputation: 205

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 03:40 PM

I will contact the author.

 

The point bschmidt1962 makes is very true, I would profit from the name of the brand. That would reduce the need for advertisment and justify having to pay for the Idea.

What really scares me is, if I have to hire a lawyer ...

 

Anyone know who usually the owner of the IP is? The author or the company making and distributing the game

 

You guys are really motivating, I appreciate that!



#8 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 16204

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 04:00 PM


What really scares me is, if I have to hire a lawyer ...

You are doing business online. You are negotiating IP rights. You are collecting money, paying taxes, and handling financial transactions.  

 

You are going to need legal advice and contracts from time to time.  Just like you would hire someone to check your books or hire someone to host your content online, you are going to need to hire a lawyer from time to time.  That is just part of business.

 


Anyone know who usually the owner of the IP is? The author or the company making and distributing the game

Both, and it depends.  Rights can be assigned in part or in full.  He might have retained the rights and simply had a company print and distribute his game.  Or he might have sold the rights to a larger company. Or he might have sold some rights and retained some others.  It is common to have one person or company hold the core rights, and other people or companies have rights to certain regions or certain formats.

 

To research who owns what rights you need to pick up the phone and start making calls. Telephone (not email) is how this type of business gets started.


Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.




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