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I've long since quite liked trading card games (and Magic: The Gathering in particular) and I have the dream to one day make my own. However, Wizards of the Coast, the creators of Magic (the first game in the genre) holds a patent on their game. It was one of the first patents on a game and honestly, it seems rather ridiculous to me. It's been quite a few years since I did any research on this, but I just now saw that this site existed and it immediately made me want to revisit the topic.

The problems I have with this patent include:

  1. The patented game was released well before the date the patent was filed (by the company that holds the patent)
  2. The patent seems overly broad on a quite a number of points, covering just about the entire genre of games, rather than this very game
  3. There are many games that seem to violate the patent, both games that take a single element that I believe cannot be used due to the patent and games that share much more, and yet there have very few lawsuits based on this (I know of one case where legal actions was taken on a game that was practically a clone of the original)

(4) Additionally, I think the patent may have expired recently, but I'm not exactly sure about that.

I definitely need to do more research on the subject before I start asking questions, but I do want to know all about the situation.

However, I am not quite sure on how to divide this up into questions. I suppose I could ask it all in one question, but that doesn't feel very SE. Problem 1 would make a lot of sense to ask separately, and two and three could be asked either together or separately. I could also divide 2 up further, but in the end I think there's too much entanglement between the different issues for that. Number 4 would definitely be a separate question.

How would you divide this into questions?

1

First things first, thanks for asking! It's always nice to see someone devoted to asking questions the right way.

Now, as I understand it, it sounds like 4 is a duplicate of How do you determine a patent expiration date? If it's not, could you clarify how? That is to say, if you run through the guidelines in those answers, is there anything that's still unclear? I'm sure you know the drill, but if there is, you're certainly welcome to ask about it, citing the original and explaining clearly why you feel it doesn't make sense, or that it's irrelevant to your point.

Onto the "juicier" topics, I'd ask it as 1, and 2/3.

Your first point is asking about the logistics of the patent system, which is great, but this patent is really just an example of what you're asking about. It may be related to 2/3, and I wouldn't complain if you linked them to each other via a comment or footnote. But as a topic, its question and answer will most likely be disjoint to those of the other two questions.

For 2/3, that's starting to sound like potentially a . That's one of three major sections of our scope here, so it's decently significant. Essentially, what you'll be saying is "this patent appears overly broad, here are some games that existed before the filing of it. Would they count?" Or more broadly, "this patent appears overly broad, was anyone doing anything before its filing that could qualify as prior art?"

Trying not to be too, too technical here, there is nothing implicitly wrong with broad patents. If it's an otherwise valid patent, the only issue broadness has from the Patent Office's perspective is that it increases the likelihood of prior art existing that could remove its novelty. That's why your second and third bullets are pretty well the same--the second one is just saying "what can I do about this broad patent," and the answer is "look at other games that are doing the same thing" (or were doing the same thing, rather, before the filing of the patent).

  • Thanks for your insightful answer. Re 4: following such a guide was amongst the research I still had to do. What I meant was more along the lines of "is my conclusion that this patent expired (or didn't expire) correct?". (Which became even more relevant now that my conclusion isn't the same as what I found in relation to the one lawsuit I know of relating this IP.) – Jasper May 26 '15 at 16:33
  • @Jasper If you read over that answer and still have questions, definitely feel free to post them. As I mentioned, I'd be tempted to include a link to that question saying that you read it, and to be clear about what part confused you in light of the lawsuit you're referring to. But yeah, it sounds like that would definitely be acceptable as a standalone question. – Matthew Haugen May 26 '15 at 22:15

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