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Re: (TFT) Appropriate use of copyrighted material

At 10:53 AM 12/27/98 -0600, you wrote:

> ...the processes and procedures of the game are covered by patent law...

If they're patented. Very, very few games are, especially in our industry.

MtG is one of the very few exceptions, and not a particularly good one.
IANAL, of course, (though I've spent entirely too much money on an IP
lawyer lately) but I think if someone with more money than WotC went after
that patent, it could be overturned. It reminds me very much, in scope and
language, of the Compton's multimedia patent, and we all know what happened
to *that*.

Patent isn't like copyright. It's not automatic, and it's far, far from
cheap. If you don't patent it almost immediately, you can't. Period. And to
the best of my knowledge, the TFT rules weren't patented.

Something to consider: the RPG industry is so small, its total annual
dollar volume and total number of people employed are considerably less
than those of a large regional shopping mall. In fact, if you add in the
CCGs and Games Workshop's... stuff... we're probably still smaller than,
say, Crossgates Mall in the Albany, NY area, and I'm sure something like
the Mall of America (the place with the roller coaster in the center) could
absorb the whole industry, CCGs and all, without a burp in its Christmas
season. Most of us can't afford things like patents.

Patents are expensive. I know -- I invented something useful and marketable
a few years back and didn't have money to patent it. (not anything
revolutionary, I'm afraid; a dingus to carry plastic grocery bags) That's
why so very few games, at least in our industry, get patent protection.
Also, the requirements for a patent are fairly stringent. Prior art was
discussed as a way to attack the MtG patent, as there have been games that
incorporated most or all of the elements of a CCG, and they may be similar
enough to invalidate the patent. If the prior existance of games such as
Cosmic Encounter and some obscure sports game might threaten the patent on
a game as innovative as MtG (or at least, it would if anyone had the money
to stand up to WoTSRC) what basis would TFT have had for a patent, given
the fact that it is significantly more similar to pre-existing RPGs in
design than MtG is than anything else ever designed?

Since TFT was never patented, the point is moot.

-- Jean

   Wintertree Software

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