Say there is a game thats been around. A lot of people are familiar with it. No one has made a board game out of it. How do I protect something that everyone knows but no one is actually selling?
In protecting board games, you have the following options to consider:
- Copyrights and Design Patent – Work with a patent attorney to register your game board designs under Design Patent and copyright law. this will cover the actual design of the board. A Design Patent will enable you to exclude others from making, selling, or using your patented board design for a period of 14 years. This is subject to the requirement that your game board is novel and not used for other games.
- Trademark – The name you come up with the board game, and any logo’s associated therewith, are protectable under Trademark law. This will prevent others from making a similar board game using the same Name as your board game. The design of your board can also be registered under Trademark Law as a Trade Dress/product configuration, provided that your board game obtains sufficient recognition and popularity that consumers recognize the board with your brand.
- Utility Patent – if you board game has some software/technology/function built-in, you may consider a utility patent filing. A Utility Patent will enable you to exclude others from making, selling, or using your patented technology for a period of 20 years. Average Price for a Utility Patent filing $5000-$6500.
In general, the rules of the board game will remain unprotected and open to the public domain. You can copyright the specific language used to explain the rules, but this will not prevent others from using those same rules for their own game.
If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.
Yuri Eliezer heads the intellectual property practice group at Founders Legal. As an entrepreneur who saw the importance of early-stage patent protection, Yuri founded SmartUp®. Clients he has served include Microsoft, Cisco, Cox, AT&T, General Electric, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Coca-Cola.
Source: Smartup Legal