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Board Game Patents: How to Protect Your Idea
Board games have been widespread for many years and are enjoyed by generations of people. It may come to a surprise to many that board games are capable of patent protection. For example, the popular board game Monopoly was patented in 1935. Since then, patents have been granted on various board games, such as Apples to Apples (U.S. Patent No. 6,328,308), Twister (U.S. Patent No. 3,454,279), and Jenga (U.S. Patent No. 5,611,554).
If you’ve developed a new board game, it would be wise to take the necessary steps to ensure that your idea is protected before you bring the game to market.
The first step in the process is to speak with a knowledgeable patent attorney. The patent attorney can help develop ideas and offer opinions to ensure that your board game has the best chance possible for successful patent protection. For example, the patent attorney can guide you through the hurdles that must be met for patentability. Specifically, the game must meet three basic criteria –
- The game must be new,
- The game must be useful, and
- The game must be non-obvious.
The novelty requirement ensures that the board game is not a copy or imitation of a known game. In other words, the game must be unique and original.
For a game to meet the usefulness criteria, it must have some educational or entertainment value. Because most board games intend to at least entertain the player, this requirement is the easiest to meet.
Non-obviousness refers to the concept that the game cannot be an obvious variation of a known game or a combination of known games.
To receive a patent on your board game, you must file a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (https://www.uspto.gov/). The patent application should include an Abstract to broadly describe the game. The specification of the patent application is where a detailed description of the game is includes. The specification should include the game rules and any alternate rules, unique features of game play, a description of the playing board and/or playing pieces, and any other unique features or qualities of the game.
The patent application should also include drawings that show the game board, playing pieces, and any other unique features in detail. When viewing the figures, the Patent Office should be able to easily understand the game. Detailed drawings will also enable the Patent Office Examiner to better understand the invention and increases your chance of securing patent protection.
Filing a patent application is a very detailed undertaking and requires a thorough understanding of Patent Law and the patent application process. For this reason, it is typically helpful to consult with a patent attorney.
You may also want to consider protecting the game with a trademark or copyright, in addition to patent protection. Specifically, the name of the game and the logo can be protected by registering a trademark. The trademark will prevent third parties from using the name or anything similar with competing products.
In addition, one or more copyrights can be used to protect the game board layout, playing pieces, instructions, and any associated artwork.
For any questions, please contact Dogwood Patent and Trademark Law at https://www.dogwood-law.com.
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“I came to Dogwood IP Law after a disappointing experience with another IP law firm. I spent a year working with an attorney who neither understood my invention nor gave it the attention it deserved. When I called Dogwood, I feared making a change so late in the process could lead to further frustrating delays. On the contrary, it was the right decision. Ashley was able to quickly come up to speed on my invention and the scope of protection I desired. I’m so happy I made the change.”