boris boris
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I wonder if anyone could help me with this. As I have become frustrated that Days Of Wonder has refused to publish Ticket To Ride board game to Android platform, I thought about developing a similar game myself to Android.

Does anyone know what the law says about board games that are similar to each other? Can I create a game with similar rules as Ticket To Ride if I don't use any of the actual material from the original game?

How much does the game have to differ from the game that inspired it in order for it to be legal for me to publish it?
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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Before taking actions that could potentially get you into legal trouble, you should probably talk to a lawyer and not random strangers on the internet.
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boris boris
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Thunkd wrote:
Before taking actions that could potentially get you into legal trouble, you should probably talk to a lawyer and not random strangers on the internet.


That is true and quite obvious of course, but thank you anyway.

I just thought that maybe someone here would have some insight into this as this forum centers around board games.

I believe similar board games to existing ones have been published before so someone might have encountered a similar situation before.

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b0ring wrote:
I just thought that maybe someone here would have some insight into this as this forum centers around board games.

I believe similar board games to existing ones have been published before so someone might have encountered a similar situation before.

Probably... but even if they have, so what? Are you going to go ahead just on their word? It would be silly to risk it without contacting a lawyer. So if you're going to do that eventually anyway...
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Tim Earl
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Well, from what we've seen so far, it depends on the publisher. Some are very quick to go after clones or imitations, while others let it slide until the actually have their own version to release.

Having said that, DoW has now decided to enter the Android market with Smallworld, so it's safe to assume that they may follow up with TtR is the sales are good.

So tread carefully. This is not likely to be worth the effort you would expend and the trouble you may get into.
 
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Karl von Laudermann
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I am not a lawyer. But my understanding is, game mechanisms are not protected by copyright or trademark law. Artwork, text, and names of things are protected by such laws. Therefore, if you're going to make a TTR clone, make sure you use all original artwork, paraphrase the instructions in your own words, and make sure the title doesn't include the words "Ticket" or "Ride".

Theoretically, if you follow this advice, you should be legally in the clear, even if your game plays exactly the same as TTR. However, that doesn't mean that DoW won't send a threatening letter, or take you to court. In which case you'd have to decide whether it's worth the time/expense of hiring a lawyer and/or defending yourself in court, or just capitulate and take the game down.
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Bryan Thunkd
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IANAL
...but my understanding is that game mechanics cannot be patented, nor can theme. However the original artwork can be.

That being said, if they decide to sue you over it, you're likely to be tied up in court and pay so much in lawyer fees that they can force you to give up the fight even if you're in the right. The cost to fight this is chump change to them but way more than you can afford to pay.

Edit: Doh! Ninja'd ninja Serves me right for getting distracted by work!
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Galaad Maal
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You could always contact Days of Wonder, and see what they say.
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IANAL

Anyone can bring legal action against anyone else. Having legal action brought against you is not going to feel nice, even if eventually it all gets thrown out. Legally I suspect you'd get away with it (assuming you know what you're doing). (Here I'm talking in general about the legal options for any company or individual with good access to the legal representation.)

Ethically, however, you'd be ripping off a designer and board gaming company. This for me is the real reason not to do it or at least not release it to the general public. Further, your actions would actually reduce the industries desire to develop game apps in the future. If the problem is a lack of android apps biting the hand that feeds you isn't the solution.

I've always wanted Small World for the Iphone - it drives me nuts that DoW won't release it but I do recognise it's their choice.
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Pretty much what Karl von Laudermann said. Maybe you could contact the guy who made Condado, an Android version of San Juan or the developers of other clones to get their experiences.

I'd say their stance on the situation will probably depend on whether they have an interest in doing such an implementation themself and whether your app would be free/paid, solo/multiplayer. With a free and solo app you'll probably have a better chance than with a paid & multiplayer one. If you're bold enough you could even contact them and ask how they would feel about such an app. Or under what restrictions they'd "allow" it...

The way I see it you can only win. As the others have said. They're big enough that they can probably shut you down regardless of what you do. So asking beforehand would give you an indication on how much trouble it would be.
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If you contact them, they will tell you not to do it. There isn't a doubt in my mind on that point.
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karlvonl wrote:
I am not a lawyer. But my understanding is, game mechanisms are not protected by copyright or trademark law. Artwork, text, and names of things are protected by such laws. Therefore, if you're going to make a TTR clone, make sure you use all original artwork, paraphrase the instructions in your own words, and make sure the title doesn't include the words "Ticket" or "Ride".

Theoretically, if you follow this advice, you should be legally in the clear, even if your game plays exactly the same as TTR. However, that doesn't mean that DoW won't send a threatening letter, or take you to court. In which case you'd have to decide whether it's worth the time/expense of hiring a lawyer and/or defending yourself in court, or just capitulate and take the game down.


I would not follow this advice. "Ideas" can not be copyrighted or patented. A game mechanic can be patented, and a number of games do have patents, mostly casino games that have a high value but also some hobby market games as well. But a game is a collection of ideas & mechanics instantiated into a set of rules in the same way that a book does - copyright protect would extend to cover the game - even if it does not cover the ideas and mechanics individually. You can't publish a Harry Potter clone or even a sequel in the same world and get away with it , but you can write a new book that follows a similar story line. How similar a book or game can be to another is always a tough decision, and that is why some of these go to court.

If the publisher or designer of said game goes after a pure clone, and the case goes to court I suspect that the court will side with the publisher despite changes in artwork used. The lack of case law does not mean that the laws don't exist, just that the small amount of money in the industry has preventing them from going to court before.

More likely the case wouldn't go to court - the app markets aren't the gold mine that people think they are, and most apps will just disappear. Ticket to Ride has a strong brand name and can generate sales - Bob's TtR ride clone doesn't. Such I am sure is the case of the Pandemic iOS clone - developer spent a lot of time and money to get on the app store, but without the brand name and publisher marketing support it quickly got passed by and likely wasn't worth the legal expense to shut it down.



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monkeyhandz wrote:
IANAL

Anyone can bring legal action against anyone else. Having legal action brought against you is not going to feel nice, even if eventually it all gets thrown out.


The language is a little rough, but it explains how it works...

 
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David C
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b0ring wrote:
I wonder if anyone could help me with this. As I have become frustrated that Days Of Wonder has refused to publish Ticket To Ride board game to Android platform, I thought about developing a similar game myself to Android.

Does anyone know what the law says about board games that are similar to each other? Can I create a game with similar rules as Ticket To Ride if I don't use any of the actual material from the original game?

How much does the game have to differ from the game that inspired it in order for it to be legal for me to publish it?


I would take this opportunity to create an artistic tour de force on both social commentary and maybe even a little edgy.

"Ticket to Hide", it would be about the 1840-1865 underground railroad...
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boris boris
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Thank you all for commenting to this, especially that video explained the situation quite well to me

I think that if I manage to build up something like this in my free time, maybe I should release it open source and not for profit. We'll see how it goes.
 
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Liam
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Open source or for profit isn't the issue.

Giving away for free something that someone else considers infringes on their IP will likely be met with a similar response. From the company is perspective giving it away for free may actually be considered more harmful to their interests as it makes selling their official app in future far more difficult.

A lot of folks think that giving things away for free reduces your liability, for the most part this is not the case.

Offering free downloads of the latest movies will soon result in all sorts of legal headaches.
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Peso Pete wrote:
If someone feels like you are infringing on their intellectual property, then they have to issue a "Cease and Desist Order" (a C&D, as attorneys call it) first and there has to be proof that you received the order and knowingly ignored it before a lawsuit will be heard in a court of law.


Although this is common practice, it isn't a necessary prerequisite to a lawsuit most of the time.

To the OP: Buy an hour of a lawyer's time and ask your questions. Seriously. Almost everything in this thread is either incorrect, or provided at such a generalized understanding as to be mostly worthless to your specific situation.

If you have real concerns, ask a real attorney. If you are just looking for affirmation from random internet folks on a course of action you plan to take anyway, then you do so at your own risk. How big of a risk? Ask a lawyer and find out.
 
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monkeyhandz wrote:
Offering free downloads of the latest movies will soon result in all sorts of legal headaches.


Say, you wouldn't happen to know where I can watch Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 4 for free online, do you? devil mb
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Once upon a time there was a free Dominion app on iPad ... and then the official one showed up. Anyone know what happened to the guy who made the first one
?
 
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Karl von Laudermann
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Stormtower wrote:
Once upon a time there was a free Dominion app on iPad ... and then the official one showed up. Anyone know what happened to the guy who made the first one
?

I can't find the thread, but IIRC, Jay Tummelson of Rio Grande Games said that the guy had been granted permission to create his version of Dominion under the conditions that 1) it was free, and 2) it would be removed from the app store as soon as the official one was released. So, presumably nothing happened to that guy because he complied with those conditions.

Edit: Found the post.
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