WotC games patents, patents game

By virtue of the madness of patent law and a product they once insinuated wildly in their catalog but never produced, Wizards of the Coast has patented constructible strategy games. The filing dates back to 2002 and, to be fair, is narrow enough to exclude anything that doesn’t involve losing or exchanging parts as a consequence of play events. That, um, does not include Pirates. This feels kinda uncool to me, but despite the felicitous timing of this announcement (just before the release of the Transformers CSG, for those keeping score), it may just be a result of the patent office’s rather plodding process. And like the infamous “tapping patent” on CCG mechanics, it may turn out that any lawsuits WotC might file to defend it end up not worth the lawyer bills. (Note to tabletop gaming companies with an eye toward suing each other: you can load your shotgun for hamsters, but that won’t make the pelts worth anything.)


  1. Yes, they do. I was unclear above: I meant to say that Pirates was not included in the patent’s exclusions.

    It makes sense, except it doesn’t! whee

  2. Why go through the patent process if you’re not going to demand others to pay you? I mean, patent has a much shorter lifespan than the other two IP types, about 10-20 years after being awarded. Once the patent grant expires, it’s fair game.

  3. BTW, how many patents does Thomas Alva Edison have been awarded, and how many of them are or were useful?

  4. Having a patent, even if you don’t plan to charge others to license it, protects you from others that might otherwise patent your invention and then charge you for it. It’s wise to protect yourself by patenting your creation if you can, even if you’ll allow others to use it freely.

  5. Still, an opportunity that have gone to waste. But then WotC have made bad business decisions before, so it’s not surprising.

  6. Ooh! Wizkids has filed suit against WotC’s patent. I love our American judicial system. 😉

  7. I’m dubbing this the Game Industry Wars.

    *watches the star destroyers leave planet in the horizon*

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