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can you copyright a game combat system?

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You can not copyright or patient a concept or idea. You can copyright/patient your source code. This is your only real legal protection aginst "cloning". However, others can make simular products based off your concept/idea but it can not be identical.

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[quote name='bschmidt1962' timestamp='1348962271' post='4985191']
[quote]I was thinking of creating a combat system[/quote]

If you have a "system" for doing things, then what you need is a patent, not a copyright. A patent, unlike a copyright, is not automatic.
you need to:
-- Do a search for 'prior art'-- to make sure that this system hasn't been done before
-- put your system into practice-- that can either by having a working system, or by creating a detailed specification. It needs to be detailed enought that someone "skilled in the art" could duplicate it after reading your document
-- Hire an attorney to draft a patent application based on your detailed specification.
-- File it with the USPTO (US Patent/Trademark office)... and/or other international equivalents.

Figure on spending between $8,000-12,000 on the above.

Regarding the little mini-thread on "free legal advice in a forum." The reason you do not want to do that is that legal outcomes and decisions can be greatly affected by seemingly insignificant details. A Forum conversation is a terrible way to try to get enough details on a particular case to do be able to draw any clear conclusions.
So forums are great for general suggestions, but you should always go to an attorney (who will talk with you and get enough specificac details to give you proper advice).

Brian Schmidt
GameSoundCon San Francisco
Oct 24,25
www.GameSoundCon.com
[/quote]

hmm great, are you a lawyer?
Good info anyway.
yes general info is all that i asked for :)

But now i have so many more quetions than i Did in the OP..
They are all listed on this second page.

Please can you answer them too pleaseeeeeeeee

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[quote]They are all listed on this second page.
Please can you answer them too pleaseeeeeeeee
[/quote]
Doing a patent is a lot of work. So I'm afraid if you are really serious, you're going to need to research these things.

You will probably never know then answer to the "did they pay them" questions-- most of the time, that kind of information is not public.
Regarding your "how can they patent things so similar to other patents?" Remember when I said it's all in the details. This is especially true for patents. Critical details can determine whether a patent is original or not. Or of someone's game is "infringing" on the patent. Very often someone will create a patent, and then another company will discover that by changing some small detail, they can do pretty much the same thing, but not violate the patent.
Also, sometimes the patent office just doesn't get it right and accidentally lets through a patent that probably shouldn't have been.

My suggestion-- If you have a game idea, go make your game and don't worry about patents. I've done about 20 patents, including one self-funded one. They are expensive and time consuming. Unless you have a clear business plan that uses the patent, it's probably not worth doing.
Especially for gameplay-related items... It's the implementation of your idea that will make or break your game

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You've gotten plenty of information here, from various sources, and most of it is accurate. However, let me give you some practical advice:

Re. Copyright - as discussed by numerous individuals above, a copyright protects the specific expression of a work. In the video game world, two items can generally be protected by copyright: a) the code; b) the performance (so to speak). Think of the performance as the combination of the story, script, setting, actions, characters, etc. Movies can be copyrighted in the same way, and although they don't have interactivity, there are many components that in combination can be protected. The code too can be copyrighted. Should you copyright your game? Yes, it always makes sense to do so. Will copyright protect your combat system? Maybe. Here's the difficulty. The copyright of the code would protect from someone taking your code verbatim and using it again. It would be more difficult however to prove infringement if they used it as reference but created their own system.

Re. Patent - As numerous individuals suggest, a patent of a combat system is probably available. For example, in the game business the ghost car patent protects its owner from infringement. In the same way, theoretically, a patent of your unique combat system would protect you. But here's the difficulty: patents are very expensive to obtain, and astronomically expensive to litigate. To give you an example, most good patent attorneys will tell you that your base line cost (US) to obtain a US patent is in the neighborhood of $50-$80K. Litigation is in the millions. My guess is that unless you have an aunt who is a patent attorney with lots of time on her hands, the patent is out of reach.

Option 3: a well written license, protecting your trade secrets. I won't go into the details here, but if your system is unique and attractive to others, the buy versus build option for them may allow you to exploit your property with a semblance of protection.

And yes, I'm an IP attorney working primarily in the video game and social media industries. That said, this does not constitute legal advice nor does it confer any sort of legal relationship between us. I'm simply adding my two-cents to a general discussion of the differences between IP rights.

Best of luck out there.

Dan

BTW: You may find a few of the articles I've written on copyright, etc. informative. Try: http://dlr-law.com/3/post/2012/08/zyngas-key-defense.html

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