Board game "invention"

I would like to have a board game manufactured and sold.

But this game is based off a game thats hundreds of years old in Africa. I doubt that it is patented. There are no versions of it here in the US, but however there are primitive versions of it in various African markets and speckles of it on the net made of sticks (haha).

(To give you an idea, think hide-and-go-seek, rock-paper-scissors, tic-tac-toe, shooting marbles, jacks, etc… games that are so old and so well known that they arent patented or no one has the rights to them)

What I would like to do is revamp it, give it a good name, look, modernize this game and target it for modern day kids with characters and colors, etc.

What are the ways I can protect it? Or should I even have to?, since the basic premise of the game is already old and not very novel (well at least for some cultures not ours).

Imagine you have a great idea for newly packaging an old and familiar game, would you even try protecting it? Or is the only option, a design patent? Which I feel would be too easy to get around anyways (change colors, characters, THEME, etc).


I don’t think there would be a way to protect the gameplay since it sounds to me that its a public domain game.

Plenty of companies have taken public domain game and branded them. Jenga, Chutes and Ladders, battleship all have been legally ‘ripped off.’

You must ad something special to the game for a company to want to license this from you. If you are considering making/manufacturing/distributing it yourself you might take a look at the story behind Cranium:

thats a sweet story… thanks for the link.

Anyone know what they evaluate on patents of board games?
It seems they can be so easily copied, more so than product designs. Seems verrrrry difficult to hash out and get a game protected.

So what’s the parts that are protected in say, Jenga?
the trademark name? Does that mean anyone can make Genga?

Anyone with experience in board games (production wise of course)?

What your are really looking at is copywriting the rules and trademarking the name. If your game had some kind of mechanism then you are talking about a patent.

Here are the definitions of all three:

No Genga is too close to Jenga… you wouldn’t get that trademarked as a game name. But you could get Genga trademarked as a name for a new drink. Its a different industry.

I created a game and named it Jamba at my last game job. (At the time I was not familiar with Jamba Juice.) Well the Jamba Juice company did go after the company I worked for. Guess what, my company won the suit and still retains the rights to used that name for games.

You might want to seek some legal advice. I am no lawyer just have experience in the toy, game industry.

It sounds like you have a great ideal, I would just like to share a few tips with you, that you may have already thought about.

  1. Before you spend a lot of money on a patent, you’ll want to make sure your game is marketable and commercially viable. It may not be cost-effective to patent it.
  2. keep in mind that patents do not infringe on patents. Products infringe on patents. It’s therefore possible that your game, built to the specifications of your patent, may infringe on another patent. In fact, the patent office aill search for potential infringement before granting a patent, but is not responsible for uncovering conflicting claims. This would have to be settled in the court system.
  3. To prevent someone from designing around your game patent, you might need to file several patents on it (covering different parts of the game).
  4. You do not need a patent to market your game, but a patent can give you a competitive advantage. A patent becomes intellectual property and can be considered a valuable asset. If yo want your game license, then seeking a patent makes sense. Before any business negotiates licensing, your invention must be pattented or in a patent pending status.
  5. Before discusing your game ideal with anyone such as an investor or prototype maker, have them sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
  6. There is a one-year rule, imposed by the Patent Office, that say that you must file for any type of patent within one year if any of the following events occur: any public use of your invention in the United States, actual sale of your invention in the United States, an offer to sell your invention in the United states, and description appear in a published document anywhere in the world. If you do not file a patent within one year after one of these events occurs, your game will become public domain and upatenable.
  7. You would want to get a Utility Patent. The protection last for 20 years. You will need the minimum to file:
    Utility Patent Application (form PTO/SB/05), Fee Transmittal (form PTO/SB/17), Declaration (form PTO/SB/01). Application Data Sheet (applicant information), Specification (title, background of idea, description), Drawing, Filing fee about $375.00

Good luck :laughing:

how do you go about making sure your product (not just board games but any product idea you have), is “marketable and commercially viable.” ?

First, you need to know the needs and wants of potential customers, market trends, competitors, success factors, and pricing. You’ll need market research to answer these questions:
Who will buy my board game?
How many people will buy my board game?
Where do they shop?
How much do they typically spend?
How do I get their attention?
Who is my competition?
What is the size of the market and is it growing? So many kids play games online now days.
What trends will reduce or boost sales?
Are there any regulations that apply to my product?

The Internet is a great place to begin your market research. While there’sa lot of free information available, there are also detailed market reports you may buy. These reports identify markets by categories and segments, segment size, future trends, market drivers for success, and key players. Checkout Gartner or Forrester and IDC Oh yea, check out the library for information.

Think of market research, analysis, and product planning as a form of risk reduction. If your game prototype does not cost a lot of money to build, then go ahead and make a few for a market trial. Go to a swap meet or local event, rent a table, and see what kind of response you get. Or, put a small ad in a game magazine or newpaper and see how many calls you receive.

good deal

i’m off to make some protos