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enzed

Do I need a patent

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I'm thinking of running a video game on kickstarter, should I get a patent before I do this?

 

Also I would like to keep my real name confidential if I do apply for a patent,

 

thankyou

Edited by enzed

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Patents protect unique processes. If you have created some fancy new unique process and think it needs specific legal protection because someone else will implement the process and take it to market first, then yes, get one.

In practice, generally no, you do not need a patent. But if you do, talk to an IP lawyer who can help you through the process.

Patents are incredibly difficult for lay-people to get right. There are many subtle issues that can cause a patent to be invalid upon review, but the patent office will still gladly take your money for the filing. It is an area that requires a skilled legal team.

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Patents tend not to apply to most video games.

Copyright is more to what you are thinking and for the most part that is automatic on completion of a section of media as long as date proof is available.

For example mailing a letter to yourself with the story of the game and keeping that letter sealed.

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1. running a video game on kickstarter, should I get a patent before I do this?  
2. Also I would like to keep my real name confidential if I do apply for a patent,

1. You should copyright your art and your design. You can trademark your game's title and character
names and logo after your game is in the marketplace making money. But it would be unusual (as said by
the others above) to patent your game.
2. That's very suspicious. You can't have an anonymous copyright or trademark or patent. You could try
forming a company and having the company own the copyright or trademark or patent, but then lots of luck
keeping your name disconnected from the company you own. Talk to a lawyer about how or if you can do
that.

For example mailing a letter to yourself with the story of the game and keeping that letter sealed.


The "poor man's copyright" is not that useful. Copyright is automatic. Just keep documentation of the
creation of your copyrightable material.

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Mailing something to yourself doesn't work and isn't accepted if there was ever a court case about it.

In the US if you want to register, pay the $35 registration cost to the copyright office.  It isn't difficult (the paperwork takes about 30 minutes) and not particularly expensive.  It is nothing compared to the other costs of doing business.

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1. You should copyright your art and your design. You can trademark your game's title and character
names and logo after your game is in the marketplace making money. But it would be unusual (as said by
the others above) to patent your game.


Forgot to provide this link about the difference between those types of IP protection. http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson39.htm

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There are two typical profiles of people interested in videogame patents:

  • would-be trolls
  • delusional inventors

Both should be prevented from getting patents.

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There are two typical profiles of people interested in videogame patents

 

Sometimes, but not always.  There are times where people create truly innovative processes and they deserve the protections patents give.

 

I don't mean the classic software patent where a natural algorithm or existing process is protected by adding "On A Computer".  

 

The purpose of a patent is to give a limited monopoly to the person or group who invented something so they get the opportunity to benefit from their invention. Consider the years when Zynga cloned every new and popular product they could find, causing several popular young programs to suddenly drop and die when the Zynga clone hit the market with its mega-marketing campaign. If those applications had implemented some truly unique processes and patented them, they would have had about 20 years of protection on that specific process.  

Patents are expressly designed to prevent people from doing exactly what Zynga and other clone-makers do, they stop people from making clones that deprive the original inventor of the opportunity to profit from their invention.

 

While I have no love for software patents generally, I do think more game studios (that have some money) should consider patent options for processes they create that are uniquely theirs, and to get advice from patent attorneys before launch or shortly thereafter.  I've seen firsthand how a cheaply made clone can destroy a small business. The innovators have the cost and difficulty and risk of innovating, the clones just copy the results in an attempt at profiteering. 

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As people have said. Patents are not for video games generally. (They absolutely exist but what is actually patent-able is a little nuanced https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent#United_States).  

There are some situations where you can get a patent, but unless you are designing a new game engine it is unlikely you would need that protection.  If you live in the US you get free copyright protection as soon as you create you work.  Registering you work only "strengthens"  you claims if you need to sue someone. 

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Mailing something to yourself doesn't work and isn't accepted if there was ever a court case about it.

While that is absolutely true for the USA (and I agree that spending the registration fee is probably worth it, at least for copyrights -- patents are roughly 50 times more expensive), I would nevertheless not shove the idea off the table alltogether too hastily.

 

It has some validity in the UK insofar as it is well-accepted as proof of having known the details written on paper prior to some point in time. However, it is explicitly stated by the patent office that this does not give conclusive proof you indeed invented whatever is written on that paper. This is in my opinion a very reasonable point of view on the patent office's behalf (a very exceptional thing).

The point is however not proving without any doubt that you invented something, but you can demonstrate that you had the knowledge in your possession at some time. In a dispute, another party claiming to be the originator will have to prove that they owned the intellectual property earlier. All in all, it is not 100% bulletproof, but it gives you a good head start at near-zero cost.

 

Also, the sealed envelope -- a special one --  it is a perfectly legitimate, established, and officially recognized way of dating your creation in a legally binding way without disclosure in France (must be sure to meet the legal requirements, special envelope and such).

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