Should I patent my game mechanic or not?

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Nom, Sep 21, 2015.

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  1. Nom

    Nom New Member

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    I've been thinking a lot about trademark, copyright and especially patenting lately.

    Say, if I have a good, new mechanic in mind, should I protect it from patent trolls and other things by patenting it?

    OR

    Should I trust that I wont get copied or sued by just getting a trademark and basic copyright protection (which would also inspire other developers to make similar games)?

    I already asked this on r/gamedev but that place has so strict and misunderstanding moderators that it's ridiculous - So I thought maybe someone would at least answer me here .. or at least tell me where I should ask for this opinion (not "legal advice") from other gamers/game developers perspective.
     
  2. GaiaDreamCreation

    Indie Author

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    Here's my point of view based on what I read, heard and other legal advices I received because I've been also interested in the legal aspects of the business.

    The short answer is no.

    A patent is quite expensive. Even if you have one patent, whatever the money you spent on it, it's worth the money you're willing or able to spend on lawyers and legal procedures to defend it. It can cost easily over $100,000 to go to the court to defend a patent. This is how justice is made in most countries. I presume that you're like most developers here, an Indie with a relatively small budget and developing an IP that way wouldn't make any sense for an Indie.

    The only patent in a video game I remember is from SEGA about a racing game (probably taxi racing game). I believe SEGA patented a game mechanic about the way the plays solved problems.

    The bottom line,if you patent something, you're going to play with the big players. Patents are great for inventions, but they apply badly in the gaming industry. If you believe that an Indie game developer infringed your patent, it will take years to debate in court, a lot of money and since the average revenue of Indies is about $15,000 / year, it's easy to predict how much money you can recover in damages. Even if you lost money because someone copied you, it's hard to see how you can gain more than you lose in that game.
     
  3. Nom

    Nom New Member

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    Thank you for the reply. So far I'm thinking "no" as well. Looking for a bit more thoughts before I decide on this completely.
     
  4. bantamcitygames

    Administrator Original Member Indie Author Greenlit

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    I agree with Gaia. If you are going to Patent it, you need the financial/legal power to defend it.
     
  5. ManuTOO

    Original Member

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    Software Patents are Evil. It's basically patenting ideas. If that system has been enforced 40 years ago at the start of the video games, we would still be playing pong... :cool:
    So if you need a moral point to confirm your negative answer, think that you don't want to reinforce an evil system... ;)

    Bonus point: practically, there's very little chance anyone will want to copy your idea ; and even if someone does, there's almost no chance he'll get through and publish a game from it. (I mean except if you create the next Hay Day concept, of course! :p )
     
    Sim and DukeofRealms like this.
  6. NO9

    NO9
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  7. DukeofRealms

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    I agree with pretty much what everyone here has said. Patents for video games are just not worth it.

    In the end, make a game that's superior. If it's truly unique, you'll have a head start, capitalize on that gap (otherwise someone else will do that for you) and you won't need to worry about copies spawning.
     
  8. CaedmonJ

    CaedmonJ New Member

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    I wouldn't recommend it, like everyone said, it's not worth it.
     
  9. Thing Trunk

    Thing Trunk New Member

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    According to my knowledge you can't legally protect a gameplay mechanic, at least in the US. What you can protect is your trademarks, story, look&feel, graphic designs, characters, etc. You can even register your source code. But is any practical for an indie? In my opinion, no. Once someone big targets you, they will know what to do and how to screw you even if you have some kind of legal protection. Something like this happened to me back at Codeminion and you can read about here. In my experience it's just better not to get in their way.
     
  10. ChunniePark

    ChunniePark New Member

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    yes you shou
    Yes you should keep it as a secret
     
  11. Buniakra Games

    Buniakra Games New Member

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    Basically patents are for inventions, trademarks for names, and copyright for different kind of works. I think that for us as developers the most important part is the trademark registration. It's not very cheap, but it grants you legal protection of the name under which you are going to sell. The problem is it takes so long to be registered... Once you are registered you can put an R inside a circle beside your trademark. Since the copyright registration in the US copyright office is much cheaper you can do it too. But you won't need a patent.
     
  12. Jacques Cowen

    Jacques Cowen New Member

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    I would definitely recommend you to go for a patent filing. Some people confuse in between patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Although there may be some similarities straight from the source among these kinds of intellectual property protection, but are different and serve different purposes. Copyright is a form of protection provided to the inventor of original works whereas a trademark is a word, name which indicates the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. So its your call.
     

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