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Subject: Rules patentability by country rss

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Daniel Piovezan
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I came across some good info on whether game rules and mechanics are patentable in different countries, so I'm sharing it with you. Also, I'm putting this in General Gaming because it's interesting info for publishers and DIYers. But first, let me make it clear that this thread is not about:
- copyright, and things normally covered by it, like artistic or literary parts of a game, or a description of its rules
- fair use or limitations regarding copyright
- ethics
- marketability of "clones"
- whether the cops r gona bust ya
- trademarks.

(I have reasons to believe that nowhere in the world copyright applies to game rules, and that's the reason for the focus on patents. But if you have solid info stating otherwise, please ignore the above and share)

And even though this is about patents, its just about where in the world they apply, but not about:
- whether patents can stand in trial
- whether companies will troll-sue you
- whether a patent filed in one country will automatically apply in another.

I got most of the info from the World Intellectual Property Organization, and a bit from Wikipedia. First there's this file that lists many countries and what they don't consider patentable.

Countries that clearly state that game rules are not patentable:
Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritus, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Serbia, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Zambia.

Countries where game rules are probably not patentable, because they may fit under broader categories:
Armenia, Australia, China, Estonia, Kyrgyz Republic, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Syrian Arab Republic, Uzbekistan.

Countries where game rules are probably patentable (nothing stating otherwise):
Bahrain, Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Nigeria, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United States of America.

There's also another list that says, among other things, in which countries there are exceptions for personal, non-commercial use of patented things. Notice that I didn't include any countries from the first group. And there's a few I'm not sure about, so I put a question mark on them:
Armenia, Bahrain, Canada, Estonia?, Israel, Japan, Moldova, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Slovenia, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic?, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

While everything so far seems pretty reliable, there's also some info on multi-national patent organizations. The thing is, I'm not sure how the agreements between those bodies really affect the laws of each country, so take the following with a grain of salt.

The African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) (not to be confused with the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO)), the European Patent Organisation (EPO) and the Patent Office of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) don't consider game rules patentable. The Eurasian Patent Organization (EAPO) doesn't consider "Symbols, schedules and rules" and "Methods for performing mental acts" patentable. If that doesn't mean game rules, there's still an exception for private non-commercial use.

OAPI: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Comoros.

EPO: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom (plus Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro as "extension states").

GCC: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates.

EAPO: Turkmenistan, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Tajikistan, Russia, the Azerbaijan Republic, the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Armenia.

You can add or correct information regarding your own country (or any country, for that matter), but please post information from reliable sources. If you're posting links to laws in a language other than English, you might want to find a translated version of it in WIPO Lex, and post that link too.

I guess that's it! GO TEAM NON-PATENTABLE!

And no one here is a lawyer, unless stated otherwise.
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J J
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MythBusting: Game Design and Copyright, Trademarks, and Patents (US Law)
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Curt Carpenter
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BozoDel wrote:
I have reasons to believe that nowhere in the world copyright applies to game rules, and that's the reason for the focus on patents.

Copyrights DO apply to game rules. US Copyright Office even has a specific page describing copyright and games:
"Material prepared in connection with a game may be subject to copyright if it contains a sufficient amount of literary or pictorial expression. For example, the text matter describing the rules of the game or the pictorial matter appearing on the gameboard or container may be registrable."

I'm not sure what focus on patents you're referring to. Very few games apply for or receive patents.
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Jonathan Franklin
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I think he is getting at the idea that expression is copyrightable, but not ideas. If I rewrite the rules to a game, then I have not violated the copyright in the rules. There is also a copyright in the artwork associated with the game, so let's assume that is also created from scratch. Then all the cards that have copyrightable text are rephrased, so no copyright violation there.

For most games, there is nothing patentable, which requires nonobviousness, utility, and novelty.

Filing for a patent can also be very expensive, so in most cases you will spend more on the patent that you will make in profit on the game.
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J J
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grandslam wrote:
I think he is getting at the idea that expression is copyrightable, but not ideas.


I see no way to read this:
Quote:
(I have reasons to believe that nowhere in the world copyright applies to game rules, and that's the reason for the focus on patents. But if you have solid info stating otherwise, please ignore the above and share)


other than how Curt also read it. Making that the reason for focusing on patents (which is an absurdity in this industry) only re-inforces that impression.

I don't think it's just poorly expressed on the part of the OP, I think he is flatly wrong in his understanding of copyright.
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Jonathan Franklin
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Ok, fair.

Patents are such an important part of the global economy that there have been substantial steps to harmonize patent standards.

Yes, there are differences around the edges, but in general, the PTO, EPO, and JPO are assessing patents similarly.
 
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J J
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grandslam wrote:
Ok, fair.

Patents are such an important part of the global economy that there have been substantial steps to harmonize patent standards.

Yes, there are differences around the edges, but in general, the PTO, EPO, and JPO are assessing patents similarly.


And almost entirely irrelevant to board gaming. Both because of the nature of board games and patents, and the cost of patents.
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Daniel Piovezan
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curtc wrote:
Copyrights DO apply to game rules. US Copyright Office even has a specific page describing copyright and games:
"Material prepared in connection with a game may be subject to copyright if it contains a sufficient amount of literary or pictorial expression. For example, the text matter describing the rules of the game or the pictorial matter appearing on the gameboard or container may be registrable."


"text matter describing the rules" is different from the rules. Notice that I did mention that:

BozoDel wrote:
But first, let me make it clear that this thread is not about:
- copyright, and things normally covered by it, like artistic or literary parts of a game, or a description of its rules


Now, from that same source you just quoted:
"Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form."

Methods for playing a game = rules. I don't know how to be clearer than that.
 
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Graham Walker
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Can't wait to see this post highlighted in Geek weekly.

 
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Derek H
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gerwalker wrote:
Can't wait to see this post highlighted in Geek weekly.

What's "Geek weekly" and why would it highlight this post?
 
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Curt Carpenter
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BozoDel wrote:
"text matter describing the rules" is different from the rules.

Typically, when folks (on this site at least) say "the rules", they are referring to the printed rules you get in the box (or are shared online, etc), unless specifically stated otherwise. I.e. the actual doc provided by the publisher. I have never seen anyone make reference to "text matter describing the rules".

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Curt Carpenter
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gamesbook wrote:
gerwalker wrote:
Can't wait to see this post highlighted in Geek weekly.

What's "Geek weekly"...

http://boardgamegeek.com/blog/3240/geek-weekly

gamesbook wrote:
...and why would it highlight this post?

I can't imagine that it would. I'm still trying to figure out the point of the thread myself, given that almost no games are patented.
 
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Graham Walker
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curtc wrote:
gamesbook wrote:
gerwalker wrote:
Can't wait to see this post highlighted in Geek weekly.

What's "Geek weekly"...

http://boardgamegeek.com/blog/3240/geek-weekly

gamesbook wrote:
...and why would it highlight this post?

I can't imagine that it would. I'm still trying to figure out the point of the thread myself, given that almost no games are patented.


I was being hyperbolic...massively so...
 
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Daniel Piovezan
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curtc wrote:
Typically, when folks (on this site at least) say "the rules", they are referring to the printed rules you get in the box (or are shared online, etc), unless specifically stated otherwise. I.e. the actual doc provided by the publisher. I have never seen anyone make reference to "text matter describing the rules".


I'm sticking to the legal terminology, but thanks for helping clarify that.

curtc wrote:
I'm still trying to figure out the point of the thread myself, given that almost no games are patented.


I did it out of curiosity, and I'm a free culture enthusiast. But perhaps you're wasting your time on pointless threads?
 
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Curt Carpenter
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BozoDel wrote:
I did it out of curiosity, and I'm a free culture enthusiast.

I also posted out of curiosity, trying to figure out what the point of all this was.

BozoDel wrote:
But perhaps you're wasting your time on pointless threads?

It does appear that way.
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