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Computer vs Physical Games?

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Let's say someone created and commerically sold a game (board game, puzzle game, etc..) before computers were popular.
This is a physical game. In other words, you can play it using your hands.

Now, let's say, today, someone else created a computer game (iPhone, Windows, etc...) based on the same game concept.
But, of course, the names and graphics are all different.

Question is, is the game logic, game rules, or game play (the way a game is played) copyrighted?
Would it matter (in terms of not getting sued) if the game was first created as a physical game?

Thanks

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1. is the game logic, game rules, or game play (the way a game is played) copyrighted?

2. Would it matter (in terms of not getting sued) if the game was first created as a physical game?


1. No. Copyright does not apply. It might be patented, though.
2. No. You can be sued for anything.

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<br />[quote name='sevenfold1' timestamp='1320669096' post='4881374']<br />1. is the game logic, game rules, or game play (the way a game is played) copyrighted?  <br /><br />2. Would it matter (in terms of not getting sued) if the game was first created as a physical game?<br />
<br /><br />1. No. Copyright does not apply.  It might be patented, though.<br />2. No. You can be sued for anything.<br />[/quote]<br /><br /><br />

But, patents expire after 20 years?

So, if I were planning to create a knock-off or clone of a board/puzzle/logic game that filed a patent before 1990,
as long as I created my own names and artwork, it would be fair game? Rules and gameplay may be similar or identical.

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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1320671045' post='4881379']<br />[quote name='sevenfold1' timestamp='1320669096' post='4881374']<br />1. is the game logic, game rules, or game play (the way a game is played) copyrighted? <br /><br />2. Would it matter (in terms of not getting sued) if the game was first created as a physical game?<br />
<br /><br />1. No. Copyright does not apply. It might be patented, though.<br />2. No. You can be sued for anything.<br />[/quote]<br /><br /><br />

But, patents expire after 20 years?

So, if I were planning to create a knock-off or clone of a board/puzzle/logic game that filed a patent before 1990,
as long as I created my own names and artwork, it would be fair game? Rules and gameplay may be similar or identical.
[/quote]

Who knows? Only if they let the patent go and did not bother renewing it. Why not check with the US patent office? Or your local legal advisor.

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<br />[quote name='sevenfold1' timestamp='1320674924' post='4881399']<br />[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1320671045' post='4881379']&lt;br /&gt;[quote name='sevenfold1' timestamp='1320669096' post='4881374']&lt;br /&gt;1. is the game logic, game rules, or game play (the way a game is played) copyrighted?  &lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;2. Would it matter (in terms of not getting sued) if the game was first created as a physical game?&lt;br /&gt;
&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;1. No. Copyright does not apply.  It might be patented, though.&lt;br /&gt;2. No. You can be sued for anything.&lt;br /&gt;[/quote]&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;<br /><br />But, patents expire after 20 years?<br /><br />So, if I were planning to create a knock-off or clone of a board/puzzle/logic game that filed a patent before 1990, <br />as long as I created my own names and artwork, it would be fair game?  Rules and gameplay may be similar or identical.<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Who knows? Only if they let the patent go and did not bother renewing it. Why not check with the US patent office? Or your local legal advisor.<br />[/quote]<br /><br /><br />

Well, some of the games I'm looking at may have filed patents in the early 1900s, so I'm sure the original owners are dead by now.
But, sure, patents can be sold, transferred, inherited, or renewed I suppose.

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Well, some of the games I'm looking at may have filed patents in the early 1900s, so I'm sure the original owners are dead by now.
But, sure, patents can be sold, transferred, inherited, or renewed I suppose.


If it was any commercial success, it probably was patented, and was probably at some point sold to a company that possibly still exists, and that might or might not have renewed it, and might or might not care about enforcing their patent.

In other words, its pretty much impossible to say anything in general and you will need legal advice.

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There is much more to IP rights than the big three of copyright, patent and trademark.

Mona Ibrahim wrote about this in her blog. See these two articles that cover a wide range of IP rights that may be involved. These include trade dress, unfair competition, and even defamation.


Also, legal action is not necessarily a lawsuit. It can start through email or paper letter or phone call and is a fairly friendly discussion. It may then become a Cease and Desist request... although less friendly groups often start at the C&D. Then may come requests at mediation. Lawsuits are costly and smart companies try to avoid them; judges can require that civil suits go through mediation before hearing them at all.


As for the game, you never mention what game it is. If you are talking about a remake of Mansion of Happiness from the year 1800 by a group that is long dead, then there is very little legal risk. If you are talking about a game published 25 years ago by Milton Bradley, then expect to be contacted by Hasbro.

And finally, if the physical game you are talking about is still being made today, you should certainly expect legal action.

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Thanks.

I have a another question about patents and physical games.

Let's say the physical game has a patent that describes a specific board/grid size, and a specific number
of playing items on the board, arranged in a specific order.

Obviously, a physical game can't change it's board size, and can't change it's playing items,
or their locations.

So, let's say someone created a similar computer game and made it customizable, by increasing
the board size, or the number of playing items.

Wouldn't we have a game now that has never been described by the patent?

For example, let's say someone filed a patent for a 20 piece jigsaw puzzle, a fixed
physical game.

Then, someone later wrote a computer program that could create a jigsaw puzzle of any size,
and of any arrangement. Would you say this computer program violated that patent?

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So what if it does? How do you imagine it alters the risk in any way? The only way to understand the risks is to take all your details and discuss thm with an IP lawyer who is familiar with the industry.

Are you prepared to go through the expense of a long legal battle with a major corporation just to prove that you are right? What if the judge agrees with them and you lose?

It is much better just to create something original yourself. Don't clone other people's stuff.

Are you creative? If so, then prove it by creating something new.

If you aren't creative, well, you are probably in the wrong business.

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Seven, you should contact a good IP lawyer with your questions. He'd be required to keep your game confidential, so you wouldn't have to talk circumspectly with him.

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