Chris May
United States
Fort Worth
Texas
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I have designed several games over that last few years that I have begun playtesting recently. Several of the games are close to being finished. I am seriously considering publishing one or more of the games myself or following a couple of leads I have with game companies.

Here is my dilemma

One of my games is similar to another game I have recently seen on here. I did not copy the game, but the concept is very similar. It is so simlar that it is eerie. I had never heard of the game, read about it, or played it before. I guess there are only so many different ideas for games.

My question is how similar does a game have to be to infringe on another publisher's rights?

I know this is a very vague question. Any ideas without me giving away too much information? Thanks for any help that you all can give.
 
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Greg Aleknevicus
Canada
Victoria
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Re: Patent, trademark, or copyright question, I'm not sure w
You may want to read Tom Jolly's "Those Bastards Stole My Game!"

http://www.thegamesjournal.com/articles/StolenGame.shtml
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David Rauscher
New Zealand
Mount Victoria
Wellington
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There are at least one or two attorneys here on BGG who either practice in the I.P. field or still retain a great deal of knowledge about it, so maybe they'll pitch in.

It's been a while since I refreshed my memory of the specifics of copyright, but just remember that it protects peoples expression of ideas from being copied by others.

If you created it on your own, then you haven't violated any copyright protection. However, if the other person thinks that you took their copyrighted material, a high degree of similarity (an "eerie degree?") would shift the burden to you to demonstrate that you independently created your game.


 
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Chris May
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Thanks for the info. That article by Tom Jolly was really good. Thanks for your responses.
 
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Hal

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David_Rauscher wrote:
There are at least one or two attorneys here on BGG who either practice in the I.P. field or still retain a great deal of knowledge about it, so maybe they'll pitch in.

It's been a while since I refreshed my memory of the specifics of copyright, but just remember that it protects peoples expression of ideas from being copied by others.

If you created it on your own, then you haven't violated any copyright protection. However, if the other person thinks that you took their copyrighted material, a high degree of similarity (an "eerie degree?") would shift the burden to you to demonstrate that you independently created your game.




That's a pretty good summary. This is a copyright question, and copyright essentially only protects the actual words used. So if your rulebooks had the exact same language, that would be a copyright issue. If, however, you only have similar game mechanics, theme, etc, it's unlikely that there is any copyright violation. Think of how many times the plot for a movie has been redone (ripped off) with only minor tweaks, but there's no legal problem with it.

Trademarks are words or symbols used to designate the particular company that manufactured the product.

Patents are another story, and rather complicated. Take my word for it that it is unlikely to apply here (although not impossible).
 
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