Patenting gameplay?

Discussion in 'Game Development (Technical)' started by mr n00b, Sep 12, 2005.

  1. mr n00b

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    Hi,

    is it possible to patent gameplay? I have an idea for a new puzzle game and I'm worried that someone with more legal resources than me will claim that they invented it first and then stop me from developing it further.

    /mr n00b
     
  2. ERoberts

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    No, not possible.
     
  3. Ricardo C

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    How can you patent gameplay for a game you haven't made yet?
     
  4. mr n00b

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    I'm not interested in patenting the game, I was wondering if someone else can patent the gameplay after I release the game and force me to withdraw it.

    According to ERoberts this is not possible, but what about historic lawsuits like the nintendo tengen tetris lawsuit:

    http://www.classicgaming.com/rotw/ttetris.shtml

    Apparently it's not possible to create a tetris game and sell it, or is that only if you call it tetris? Is it the actual name that's protected or the gameplay?

    /mr n00b
     
  5. Ricardo C

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    There are exactly 4,253,092,562,234,765 games that mimic Tetris' gameplay, and that's not counting the 402 that were started up in the time I've been writing this post. They cannot legally use the NAME Tetris (or a similar game, such as ''Blocktris''). Tengen's version of the game was pulled because, at the time, the rights to the game were owned by the Soviet government, and any other licensing deals were illegal.

    So go ahead and make your game. The best protection you can get is beating the competition to market. After that, yes, a patent is possible, but please don't be THAT guy ;)
     
  6. lakibuk

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    Don't know if you can actually patent gameplay.
    But i am sure it's possible to get sued for your gameplay.
    Like it happened with the german company which made "The Great Giana Sisters", a Super Mario-like game. They had to take it off the market because of Nintendo's legal actions.
     
  7. Robert Cummings

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    Pretty sure it was because giana sisters also copied the levels too...

    So they went too far there. If you go too far then obviously you're doing something wrong.
     
  8. Abscissa

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    It *is* possible to patent gameplay, however it's not *supposed* to be possible.

    If some big company wants to sue you, they will. Doesn't matter if they have a valid case or not because they know they can just drown you in legal fees and force you to settle on their terms before the case ever gets to an official ruling.
     
  9. lakibuk

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    No level copying, but the gameplay was very similar to Super Mario.
    What about Hasbro and their efforts against developers making Pac Man - like games?
     
  10. milieu

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    You can patent elements of gameplay, but not the entire game itself. Take for example Wizards of the Coast patenting tapping a card in Magic. Or whoever it was recently who patented a system of displaying insanity in a game. So, if you have a particularly unusual mechanic or process, you could apply for a patent on it.

    Defending it in court is another matter, and is likely beyond the resources of any indie or small time developer.
     
  11. Raptisoft

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    I hope nobody plans on making a game that uses a mouse as an input device, because I've got a patent pending on that.
     
  12. lakibuk

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    Nintendo again. :mad:
     
  13. HeadlessJB

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    I was reading Edge the other month with a strong interest in the indi games stuff I read an article about PomPom

    Link to Edge's PoMPoM article

    They are working on a game at the moment and the article mentions that they are trying to patent a game mechanic.

    I've extracted the interesting part

    and the mechanic they are trying to patent is

    Thats as close to a patent for game play thet I've heared of.

    JC

    (edit to correct spellings)
     
    #13 HeadlessJB, Sep 12, 2005
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2005
  14. HairyTroll

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  15. impossible

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    So if I create a missle command type game with juggling, then Pompom can sue me now? Seems like something someone could come up with accidentally just fooling around...
     
  16. Fost

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    I have a suspicion that the reason behind PomPom's patent is because they are showing it around various publishers to get feedback. For one ,having a patent is a big plus for publishers, and also a lot of publishers have altely been ripping off good ideas (I think some people on this board may have experience of running betas and identical ideas popping up very shortly afterwards). That kind of dodgy practice is surely less likely if you have a patent.
     
  17. Abscissa

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    Nintendo. And I'm still pissed at them about it.

    That's what NDA's are for.
     
  18. GBGames

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    What you describe is called Independent invention. Copyright law respects it, but patent law does not. Let's say you are the author of a novel. Let's also say that I wrote a novel without knowing about yours BUT anyone who has read yours would say, "That's a copy of Impossible's novel!", copyright law says I have my own copyright to my work since it was not derived from yours but created independently.

    On the other hand, patents on all sorts of things grant a monopoly to the person who invents it first. If someone else independently invents something after the fact, they don't get to claim the rights to the invention. See Carmack's Reverse for a recent high-profile game dev-related case.

    Recently a number of companies have formed with the express purpose of owning software patents and suing people for violation of said patents. And given that a number of software patents are so basic that the only real complication is in the wording of the patent itself, you could find yourself stumbling over submarine patents left and right.
     
  19. Nexic

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    I'm pretty sure every single game made must be infringing on at least 10 patents, it's a stupid stiauation.
     
  20. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Im not againts patents when they do what they're suppose to do. Ie.. foster invention by making research more worthwhile. What I am against is patents for things that require little or not research, or things that with a small amount of work can be achieved independently. Im also particularly against patents for things that are the logical solution to a problem that isn't easily solved otherwise. That is... in software its trivial to imagine 2 programmers looking for the best way to optimize the use of 3 elevators in a building and coming up with the same solution.
     

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