Games with Copyright Problems
Michael Evans
Canada
Nobleton
Ontario
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I was wondering how many games out there have run afoul of copyright problems that forced that game to be renamed, redesigned, or completely taken off the market.
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1. Board Game: BattleTech [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:849]
Michael Evans
Canada
Nobleton
Ontario
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First published under the name Battledroids.



FASA was forced to rename it when it turned out that the term 'droid' is copyrighted by Lucasarts.

The question that usually comes to my mind in these cases is whether the game company was actually served with a cease-and-desist order. Or were they simply warned by Lucasarts or their own lawyers of the infringement? Or, lastly, did they just voluntarily change the name after realizing the problem on their own?

Ral Partha also published a series of Battledroids miniatures for the game. Where they also asked or forced to stop?

How rare/expensive has this made the game and/or the miniatures?
 
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2. Board Game: Starlord [Average Rating:5.25 Unranked]
Michael Evans
Canada
Nobleton
Ontario
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This game was published in 1977. The same year the first Star Wars movie was released. Gamma Two took to putting a disclaimer sticker on the box cover that stated that there was no connection between the two.
See my image comment at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/viewarticle.php3?articleid=7036....

I would really be interested to know what the timing of this was. Was the game released to the stores before or after the movie's debut? At what point did the designers find out about the potential problem? And, did Lucasarts ever request or demand that the game be renamed?

Can't remember now if G2 ever republished it another name.
 
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3. Board Game: Before I Kill You, Mister Spy... [Average Rating:5.42 Overall Rank:14797]
Michael Evans
Canada
Nobleton
Ontario
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I presume this is currently the best known example of this sort of thing.

Since the game's title included the name of a certain well-known copyrighted spy series, Cheapass Games had to stop publishing it.

Just this year, it's been republished under the name 'James Ernest's' Totally Renamed Spy Game .
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4. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons: The Fantasy Adventure Board Game [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2101]
Michael Evans
Canada
Nobleton
Ontario
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And, just for the heck of it, (and also because I used to play AD&D), there's the infamous case of the 1st edition Deities and Demigods manual. It included the pantheons from Michael Moorcock's Elric books, and H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulu Mythos.

See this page for the detailed story: http://www.acaeum.com/DDIndexes/SetPages/Deities.html
 
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5. Board Game: Kill Doctor Lucky: Craigdarroch [Average Rating:6.39 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.39 Unranked]
Richard Pardoe
United States
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A second Cheapass game for this list. The owners of Craigdarroch didn't want to have the name used. The deluxe version of Kill Doctor Lucky has an unnamed castle included with some tweaks, but the overall map is still Craigdarroch.
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6. Board Game: Space Hulk [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:430]
Sven
Germany
Frankfurt am Main
Hessen
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If you look at the Genestealers, which SciFi-Movie-Creature comes to your mind? Right, "Alien" by the acclaimed swiss artist H.R. Giger.
I don´t know exactly, how the whole thing worked out in the end, but Games Workshop ran into legal troubles with Mr. Giger over the Design of the Genestealers.
Maybe this early trauma explains their own very tight copyright-policies these days?
 
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7. Board Game: Offline [Average Rating:5.97 Overall Rank:11378]
upandawaygames.com
United States
California
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Along similar lines, when I was at Essen in 2000 there were 2 new games with the title Online, one by Hasbro and one not. Guess which one had to change its name to Offline? Not this one: http://boardgamegeek.com/game/2099 -- but I think Franjos had the last laugh -- their game has a better rating!
 
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8. Board Game: Canoe [Average Rating:6.55 Unranked]
R C
United States
Phoenix
Arizona
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Game creator Dale Walton writes about this game's trademark woes on the game's page. Too bad about the problems, because it's an excellent abstract.
 
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9. Board Game: Advanced Civilization [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Michael Evans
Canada
Nobleton
Ontario
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Added in response to Jason's comment.

Indeed, how could I have forgot to include this item?
The boardgame that helped bring down one of the best game companies in the business.

I only know the usual hearsay info about all this, so I'll let one of you with more detailed knowledge fill us in.

If there are any websites with articles detailing the circumstances, please post them here.
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10. Board Game: Ghettopoly [Average Rating:4.65 Overall Rank:14755]
Nate Sandall
United States
Portland
Oregon
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The company's website that's linked to here on the geek seems to be working. Remember the brouhaha a year ago when this game crashed onto the scene? Are they still around?
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11. Board Game: Anti-Monopoly [Average Rating:3.66 Overall Rank:15321]
Michael Evans
Canada
Nobleton
Ontario
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The biggest copyright battle in boardgame history.
A ten year court battle during which General Mills, then then owner of Parker Brothers and the Monopoly game, tried to force inventor Ralph Anspach to cease publication of his game Anti-Monopoly. As detailed on his website, http://www.antimonopoly.com/, he was forced by the court for 6 of those 10 years to take the game off the market.

He eventually won his case at the U.S. Supreme Court level, and was able to start publishing his game again.

Also, during the legal research for this battle, Anspach found evidence that the credited inventor of Monopoly, Charles Darrow, had copied the game design from a public domain game played by the Quaker community.
 
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12. Board Game: Legend of the Five Rings [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1025] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Matt Ruff
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Wizards of the Coast, the game's original publisher, was forced to change the design of the cardbacks, which showed five linked rings. Seems the U.S. Olympic Committee was not happy about this.

Wizards had previously run into problems with another CCG, Vampire: the Eternal Struggle, whose original title, Jyhad, was deemed not likely to enhance sales in Israel...
 
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13. Board Game: Blade Runner [Average Rating:5.75 Unranked]
Davido
United States
California
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Wasn't there something posted to the Geek recently about this one? Seems that the publishers never got the rights/clearences and it was withdrawn and is now a collector's item...
 
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14. Board Game: Ikusa [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:689]
Ben Vögel
United States
Golden Valley
Minnesota
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I've been on this site for 15 years now, and I'm far from sick of games, but I think I prefer a better balance of favorites to new games. I'm also tired of playing 4+ hr multiplayer games, but I'll still happily play really long games 2 player.
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Shogun was later changed to Samurai Swords after the James Clavell book's franchise sued or threatened to sue.
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15. Board Game: Mister Bill [Average Rating:5.10 Overall Rank:14077]
 
CHAPEL
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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"that's a smith and wesson, and you've had your six"
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Oh no mister bill, mister bill! Ok, this may not be a problem, yet. But it goes to wonder if NBC, or SNL may hold rights to this term?
 
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16. Board Game: Wings of War: Famous Aces [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:787] [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
Andrea Angiolino
Italy
Rome
European Union
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In Nurenberg 2003 we announced our "World War Wings" card game. Before summer we changed the name in "Wings of War" and we started promoting it with the new title. In March 2004 (several months after its listing on BGG) the game has been released in Italy, in May 2004 in USA and other English-speaking countries, and then in Germany, Greece, Spain/Portugal, France.

The 9th of August, Gathering announced an arcade game about WWI air combat. As far as I know, the title should have been different and changed at the last minute to "Wings of War". The release took place the 1st of september, 2004:

http://www.gathering.com/wingsofwar/

Don't ask me about the quality of the game: I never played it. I can only say that color schemes, landscapes, use of plenty of very effective air-to-air rockets are maybe nice for an arcade, but make the game totally unrealistic. Just go to the Nieuport 17 page (they call it XVII) on their site and you'll find a Nieuport Triplane instead (the Nieuport 17 was actually a biplane).
 
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