Justine Ayers
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I mean there is so much stuff out there today. How do you know that you are not violating someone copyright or patent by accident. For example if you had never played magic the gathering and decided to use a mechanic where you turn the card 90 degrees to initialize it and call it the obvious term of tap. If you didn't know that, how would you go about finding out you can't do that?

Are their lawyers that specialize in researching these things or companies that can do that kind of research for you? I am working on a in the box card game (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/785585/wip-steam-titans-...). I just want to make sure that after all the work we will put into this that we are not stepping on any toes we didn't mean to.

Obviously the best way to avoid it would be to get published by the company that owns the patent but i doubt wizards of the coast is going to pick me up, lol. And Im not sure I would really want them too after what they are doing to magic. (rant for a later time)

But I think this is a question many people would pose. How do you know.
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Drew Dallas
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There are lawyers that deal with this stuff.

slightly off topic:
Dysturbed wrote:
and call it the obvious term of tap.

How on earth do you figure that tap is an obvious term for turning a card 90 degrees to signal its gamestate?
Quote:
tap1    [tap] Show IPA ,verb, tapped, tap·ping, noun
verb (used with object)
1.to strike with a light but audible blow or blows; hit with repeated, light blows: He tapped the door twice.
2.to make, put, etc., by tapping: to tap a nail into a wall.
3.to strike (the fingers, a foot, a pencil, etc.) upon or against something, especially with repeated light blows: Stop tapping your feet!
4.Basketball . to strike (a ball in the air) in the direction of a teammate or of the basket.
5.to enter information or produce copy by tapping on a keyboard: to tap data into a computer; to tap out a magazine article.
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I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, etc, etc, etc...

Lets look at Scott-e-Vest, the clothing line that was recently aired on The Shark Tank, where Scott Jordan attempted to sell a part of the intellectual property 'TEC' (technology enabled clothing) which patented the concept of a series of tubes and areas in a garment that allowed pockets to connect to each other via wires and ultimately to the headphones which stored in the collar of the jacket.

Scott Jordan invented TEC and has vigorously defended it in court, successfully. Other clothing manufacturers who also had holes in the pockets that allowed items to connect to each other via wires hidden in the clothing now pay him a royalty for every garment sold. Ultimately his intent is to make TEC another 'part' of clothing, just like Gortex, Rivets, Velcro, etc.

The clothing manufacturers who thought "Hey, we can poke holes in the pockets and connect devices with wires." may not have known about Scott Jordan and his patent, but the patent still stands if Scott wanted to defend it (and he did).

Yes, there are people out there who will search existing patents to make sure you are not infringing. Most importantly are the ones working at the patent office, since they cannot grant a patent that's already been granted. That's far down the process though, and after you've paid any fee to get your idea looked at in the first place.

Violating copyright is difficult if you've created something from scratch. Violating patents accidentally is easier as you may not be aware you are infringing, and if the patent owner notices you have two choices: stop or pay.

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I would need more details on the specifics of the game (e.g., are you actually calling something tapping?) for all of this to count, but here's my general take on it:

A lot of content isn't as protected as you think, especially when it comes to mechanics.

WotC can copyright their arrow icon in the diamond that represents tapping. They might even have some protections on calling it "tapping" (which, btw, is only the obvious term because Magic made it so) but the concept of exhausting a card until the next turn doesn't belong to them.

Copyright protection is limited to creative content (the specific worlds, characters, design and artwork). I suppose a mechanic could be patented, but as long as you're using the mechanics in an original way, there's not a lot of legal power they have over you.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer, this is just what I have found in trying to copyright my own ideas.



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Darksbane wrote:
How on earth do you figure that tap is an obvious term for turning a card 90 degrees to signal its gamestate?
Quote:
tap1    [tap] Show IPA ,verb, tapped, tap·ping, noun
verb (used with object)
1.to strike with a light but audible blow or blows; hit with repeated, light blows: He tapped the door twice.
2.to make, put, etc., by tapping: to tap a nail into a wall.
3.to strike (the fingers, a foot, a pencil, etc.) upon or against something, especially with repeated light blows: Stop tapping your feet!
4.Basketball . to strike (a ball in the air) in the direction of a teammate or of the basket.
5.to enter information or produce copy by tapping on a keyboard: to tap data into a computer; to tap out a magazine article.


Not to threadjack, but I'm guessing it came from this definition:
verb ( tapped , tapping ) [ trans. ]
1. draw liquid through the tap or spout of (a cask, barrel, or other container)

It likely came from tapping the lands to draw out mana (I'm guessing) and eventually became the all-purpose term for turning a card 90 degrees.
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Oh I realize why Magic uses the term but I just don't see it as an obvious term for indicating the state of a card outside of that system. Turning a card 90 degrees has nothing to do with the term 'tap'.
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Darksbane wrote:
Oh I realize why Magic uses the term but I just don't see it as an obvious term for indicating the state of a card outside of that system. Turning a card 90 degrees has nothing to do with the term 'tap'.


Agreed. I just made the connection, so I felt like sharing.
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BoardGame_Ben wrote:

Not to threadjack, but I'm guessing it came from this definition:
verb ( tapped , tapping ) [ trans. ]
1. draw liquid through the tap or spout of (a cask, barrel, or other container)


I'd figured it came from the more-general meaning of "to derive benefit from some resource", although I expect that in turn came originally from the cask meaning.

(I've always thought that "tapping" a barrel referred to the "putting the tap into it in order to later draw off liquid" rather than the actual act of drawing off!)
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I'm not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, etc.

Based on what I've read here, you don't have much to worry about unless you're copying a game with the intent to do so. In regard to copyright, it's highly unlikely that you'd independently create a game that is for all practical purpose the same as another game (down to the theme, art, graphic design, wording of rules, etc.).

Again based on what I've read here, WoTC has a patent which essentially covers the way Magic plays, of which tapping is only a part. As I understand it, the patent is not exclusively for the mechanic of turning a card sideways to indicate it has been used. Regardless, there are ways around this. Turning a card sideways is not the only way to indicate a card has been used. You could also suggest that players come up with and agree on their own way to indicate which cards have been used, which will lead to many people simply turning them sideways.
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Ok Ok i guess it's not the most obvious. It goes to the whole concept of Plato and how do you know something is called by a certain name. Is it because it's what you have always been told it's called or is it because it emits the essence of what you feel it is called. Yeah too much explanation.
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This is your chance to give the "tapping" mechanic a more intuitive name (I dunno—"utilizing"?), and then you can sue other people for copyright infringement. cool
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Dysturbed wrote:
Ok Ok i guess it's not the most obvious. It goes to the whole concept of Plato and how do you know something is called by a certain name. Is it because it's what you have always been told it's called or is it because it emits the essence of what you feel it is called. Yeah too much explanation.

If you're essentially asking whether or not you should, in your game, use "tap" to describe the process of turning a card sideways to indicate it has been used, the answer is definitely no. As mentioned already, "tap" is not an obvious term for such an action.

Given your theme, "tap" doesn't really make sense, anyway.
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robigo wrote:
This is your chance to give the "tapping" mechanic a more intuitive name (I dunno—"utilizing"?), and then you can sue other people for copyright infringement. cool


Our name we are going to use is Engage or Engaged.
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binaryeye wrote:
Dysturbed wrote:
Ok Ok i guess it's not the most obvious. It goes to the whole concept of Plato and how do you know something is called by a certain name. Is it because it's what you have always been told it's called or is it because it emits the essence of what you feel it is called. Yeah too much explanation.

If you're essentially asking whether or not you should, in your game, use "tap" to describe the process of turning a card sideways to indicate it has been used, the answer is definitely no. As mentioned already, "tap" is not an obvious term for such an action.

Given your theme, "tap" doesn't really make sense, anyway.


I totally agree. The question I was more asking for is other rules that we come up with that are not in Magic or other popular games. Stuff I don't know about.

Though I think only Magic was audacious enough to really actually patent their game like that.
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byronczimmer wrote:
Most importantly are the ones working at the patent office, since they cannot grant a patent that's already been granted.


    There are thousands of patents in contention with each other in the U.S. patent office. It's a complete mess. Getting a patent is no guarantee anymore.

             S.


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Dysturbed wrote:
I mean there is so much stuff out there today. How do you know that you are not violating someone copyright or patent by accident. ...
How do you know.


Easy answer: you don't.

Seriously, there's no way that you'll ever know - and with a very high chance of probability what you do will be similar to what other's have done before (on the basis of how innovation works, i.e. of there being no genuinely original, out of the blue ideas but only developments from already existing ideas).

You don't have to worry about copyright unless you actually copy the expression (text and/or images) created by someone else. You could even copy part of someone else's work and have it fall under fair use if you want. Copyright doesn't protect ideas, only artistic expressions of those ideas (a game isn't an artistic expression but the words strung together to create the rules and any graphics are).

As for patents; a patent is ineffectual unless defended. That is it's not your job to make sure you don't infringe, it's the patent holders job to maker sure that he/she contest your infringement. Which they'll do by sending you a cease and desist letter (which you then can fight if you want). Effectively you don't have to worry about patents either, it's the patent holder's job to do that.

Hope it helps.
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