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Posts Tagged: "board games"

The Most Iconic (and Patented) Toys and Games of All Time

Since America’s earliest days, a lot of creative and innovative toys have come through the consumer marketplace. Many becoming so iconic they have become household names and synonymous with a moment in time for America’s youth. Some of the most popular of these toys that continue to show up year after year under Christmas trees were patented… It wouldn’t be a traditional Christmas at IPWatchdog unless we spent some time profiling some cool innovations that relate to the holiday season. So today, I return to one of our all time favorite articles. Five years ago we published The Top 10 Most Iconic (and Patented) Toys and last year we published The Most Iconic (and Patented) Games. With Christmas firmly in mind, it is time to revisit and expand these lists. When initially published some truly iconic classic toys and games were inexplicably left missing. So, with the hours winding down before Santa Claus makes his way down chimneys across the world, join us as we look back at some of the most popular toys and games of all time, as well as the patents behind them.

Lessons from Monopoly® and the First Millionaire Game Inventor

Darrow became the first millionaire game inventor, thanks to royalty payments. The irony, however, is that Darrow may not have invented the game at all, but rather he may have taken a locally popular game and made only a few changes. By the time Parker Brothers realized that Darrow may not have been the true inventor the game was already a huge success. In order to protect the game and its investment the decision was made to buy up all patents and copyrights on any related game, thereby ensuring the monopoly on Monopoly®. Thus, the story of Monopoly® provides inspiration to inventors who at first are told no, and for companies who acquire intellectual property rights.

The Most Iconic (and Patented) Games

Several years ago we profiled the Top 10 Iconic (and Patented) Toys in our Christmas Eve edition. This year we decided to profile the most iconic and patented games, many of which are still likely to be found waiting for good little girls and boys under the Christmas tree. Profiled are Monopoly®, Rubik’s Cube, Battleship, and Rock’em Sock’em Robots, Twister and Simon.

USPTO handling of patent eligibility sparks substantive discussion at PPAC meeting

Bahr explained a number of things, including the reason the USPTO has not updated patent eligibility guidance to address the pro-patent decision of the Federal Circuit in BASCOM v. AT&T. Many in the industry have been critical of the fact that the USPTO, which has been otherwise quick to provide guidance with respect to important precedential decisions, did not provide examiners with guidance in this case which found the software claims at issue patent eligible. Bahr explained that the USPTO did not think the case changed anything they had previously told patent examiners, which is why no further guidance had been issued.

Would Monopoly® be patent ineligible under Alice?

One particularly disconcerting and largely unpredictable aspect of Alice is how it has been used to render games patent ineligible. This type of Alice-creep is particularly disconcerting because it ignores the primary concern of the Supreme Court in Mayo. Much of the 101 patent eligibility mischief we now experience can be traced back directly to Mayo v. Prometheus, where the Supreme Court ruled that conventional steps are not enough to transform a law of nature into a patent eligible process… Given that the Alice framework is really the Mayo framework applied to abstract ideas instead of laws of nature, why should Alice ever be used to deal with a process that a patent examiner acknowledges is new, non-obvious and appropriately described? It would seem that Alice simply has no relevance in such a circumstance.

Patenting Board Games 101

In my experience one of the things that inventors of board games frequently forget is the inclusion of alternative methods of play. Don’t just focus on the preferred method of play and preferred rules, but think about ways that the game can be modified and changed. Let me use an example from the extremely popular game Monopoly. One of the things that keep many people from playing Monopoly is the length of the game. That has lead to any number of various “house rules” to be implemented by those who love the game but want it to be played faster so the game can be completed in a reasonable time frame, or at least before everyone loses interest. So if you invented Monopoly in addition to the traditional rules you should give some thought to rules associated with accelerated play.

Patent Lessons from Monopoly® and the First Millionaire Game Inventor

As a result of his invention Darrow became the first millionaire game inventor, thanks to royalty payments. The irony, however, is that Darrow may not have invented the game at all, but rather he may have taken a locally popular game and made only a few changes. By the time Parker Brothers realized that Darrow may not have been the true inventor the game was already a huge success. In order to protect the game and its investment the decision was made to buy up all patents and copyrights on any related game, thereby ensuring the monopoly on Monopoly®.