If You’re Making Your Own Board Game, How Do You Protect Your Idea?

Say there is a game thats been around. A lot of people are familiar with it. No one has made a board game out of it. How do I protect something that everyone knows but no one is actually selling?

In protecting board games, you have the following options to consider:

  1. Copyrights and Design Patent – Work with a patent attorney to register your game board designs under Design Patent and copyright law. this will cover the actual design of the board. A Design Patent will enable you to exclude others from making, selling, or using your patented board design for a period of 14 years. This is subject to the requirement that your game board is novel and not used for other games.
  2. Trademark – The name you come up with the board game, and any logo’s associated therewith, are protectable under Trademark law. This will prevent others from making a similar board game using the same Name as your board game. The design of your board can also be registered under Trademark Law as a Trade Dress/product configuration, provided that your board game obtains sufficient recognition and popularity that consumers recognize the board with your brand.
  3. Utility Patent – if you board game has some software/technology/function built-in, you may consider a utility patent filing. A Utility Patent will enable you to exclude others from making, selling, or using your patented technology for a period of 20 years. Average Price for a Utility Patent filing $5000-$6500.

In general, the rules of the board game will remain unprotected and open to the public domain. You can copyright the specific language used to explain the rules, but this will not prevent others from using those same rules for their own game.

If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.

Yuri Eliezer heads the intellectual property practice group at Founders Legal. As an entrepreneur who saw the importance of early-stage patent protection, Yuri founded SmartUp®. Clients he has served include Microsoft, Cisco, Cox, AT&T, General Electric, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Coca-Cola.

yuri

 

Source: Smartup Legal

What Happens If I Infringe on Someone’s Copyright?

As an attorney for startups and up-and-coming companies, I am often asked questions such as these:

“do I need permission to use someone else’s song in my Kickstarter video?” or “what will happen if I just use it?” or “if the band or label catches me, they can just tell me to stop, right?”

To answer those questions, it is important to explain the basic underlying concept of Federal Copyright law, so read a brief explanation here.. 

Simply put, if you are using a creative, intellectual or artistic work without the owner’s permission, then you are infringing on that party’s Copyright.   Even if the Copyright is not registered, the Copyright owner can sue you to try and recover ‘Actual Damages’.  This means that the Copyright owner can take you to court and have a jury decide what the actual monetary harm is.

If a Copyright is registered with the Library of Congress before and you infringe, then the Copyright owner can sue you for ‘Statutory Damages’ (under 17 U.S. Code § 504).  Here, no proof of actual harm is needed.  The range of the award amount is written into the code: $750 to $30,000 for each work infringed.

If there is evidence of willful infringement (ie. the infringer knew or should have known about the fact that the work is copyrighted), then the award can go up to $150,000 for each work infringed.  In such cases, the Copyright owner can also recover attorneys fees and other costs of the lawsuit from you.  The actual amounts that are awarded are at discretion of the judge.

Keep in mind – a single ‘work’ can be subject to multiple Copyrights from different parties.  In the case of a song, rights to the  music, lyrics, and recording can all belong to different parties.

This explanation obviously does not apply if the work is in the ‘Public Domain’ (either due to the Copyright’s expiration or by the work creator’s choice).  If you plan on using the ‘Public Domain’ exception, make sure that all elements of the work you want to use are covered.

If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.

Andrei Tsygankov is the Co-Founder and COO of SmartUp® and a partner at Founders Legal (Bekiares Eliezer LLP). As an attorney, Andrei specializes in corporate, commercial, trademark, and international business matters.

andrei

Source: Smartup Legal

What Is a Copyright?

If a person today creates an intellectual, creative or artistic work, the form of that work is automatically protected by Federal Copyright law (Title 17 of the U.S. Code).  Copyright protection does not extend to the underlying ideas or information, but simply to the form in which they are presented.

As of 1989, Copyright protection for works that are copyrightable is automatic (courtesy of the Berne Convention and the 1989 Berne Convention Implementation Act).  Simply displaying the symbol ‘©’ lets people know that the work is Copyrighted – although even that notice is not a requirement.  A Copyright holder can register the Copyright with the U.S. Library of Congress.  The benefit to registration is mainly the ability to recover more damages from infringers.

If the creator of a copyrightable work is a physical person, then he enjoys Copyright protection for the work for his life plus 70 years.  If the creator is an entity (a business), then the Copyright protection is either 120 years following the creation of the work or 95 years after the work is published.

If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.

Andrei Tsygankov is the Co-Founder and COO of SmartUp® and a partner at Founders Legal (Bekiares Eliezer LLP). As an attorney, Andrei specializes in corporate, commercial, trademark, and international business matters.

andrei

Source: Smartup Legal