Card games have never been more popular.
Whether we’re talking about the enduring success of tradable card games like Pokemon and Magic the Gathering, or the booming indie market for card-based games, protecting your brand new card game is a must for new game designers.
How can you go about protecting your card game?
Filing patents for games is not as straightforward as filing patents for other inventions.
Can you even file a patent for a card game?
Yes. You can patent a card game.
You are able to patent certain aspects of a card game that will allow you to have a legal monopoly on this game for a given period of time.
This article will go over a few specifics that we need to take a look at in order to fully understand patenting a card game.
What Kinds of Card Games Can Have Patents?
The patent office will be able to tell you whether or not your game will be eligible for a patent, but we typically don’t want to wait to hear it from them.
There is one quick short-hand that you can use to determine whether or not your game is eligible for a patent: Is your new card game using a unique deck, game board, or other pieces or is it just using a standard poker deck?
New card games that are only a set of rules that incorporate a standard poker deck typically cannot have a patent.
This is because these games are merely a set of written rules and not considered to be a new innovation in the eyes of the patent office.
If you want to boost your odds of having a successful patent application, you need to create some new cards along with your new rules.
This can be as simple as creating new and unique designs for your card faces and backs, or adding additional pieces to the game or even a game board.
Adding these additional pieces will dramatically increase your odds of winning at the patent office.
We also need to consider Trademarks and Copyright protection for card games.
Patent VS Trademark for Card Games
Patents are different than trademarks.
A trademark is anything that helps your customers identify your business as the unique source of a product or services.
Typically, we see trademarks applied to logos and slogans.
However, trademarks can also be applied to unique pieces of art that can help your audience identify your product when it hits store shelves.
Trademarks and patents also protect different aspects of your work.
If you want to get a more comprehensive layer of legal protections for your new card game, you should consider both applying for a trademark and a patent.
Where do copyright claims fit into all of this?
Does Copyright Protect Card Games?
Copyright might not be as useful for protecting a new card game as patents and trademarks.
While you can get protection for the written text of the rules, you cannot have copyright protection for how a game is played.
This dramatically limits the usefulness for copyright for game designers.
Copyright might also be able to help you with aspects of your game including artwork, but the game as a whole does not benefit much from this particular type of protection for intellectual properties.
Now let’s take a look at who should consider applying for a card game patent.
Who Should Patent Their Card Game?
Here are a few things we need to look at that can help you determine whether or not patenting your game is the right decision for you.
The first thing to consider is something we’ve already discussed.
If your game is only a new set of rules for an existing deck of poker style playing cards, you’ll be facing an uphill battle at the patent office.
While it’s not impossible to get that type of card game patented, new regulations that have been recently put in place make it extremely difficult to patent that style of card game.
If your card game incorporates new styles of card, other game pieces, and game boards, you stand a much better chance at the patent office.
Individuals incorporating all these other new pieces into their card game also have more to lose if a competitor decides to try to steal their idea.
This means that these more complicated and more involved card game designs can benefit more from a patent application.
Patents are also very helpful if you plan on selling your game.
This could be if you’re about to start a Kickstarter for your game or if you already have plans in place to distribute the game nationwide in stores.
Patents are considered a must for individuals who are working towards commercial success.
Now, if you’re ready to play along with the patent office here are the rules for the game.
How to Patent a Card Game
The process for getting a patent for your card game is fairly simple.
All you need to do is to put together your application materials and file for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
These materials include your design, all the required paperwork, and detailed drawings of any more complicated aspects of your game.
Filing a patent on your own for the first time can be a difficult process that can be helped along by the aid of an attorney.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Patent a Card Game?
No. You did not legally require an attorney to pad the card game.
However, many individuals can benefit from the aid and expertise of a patent attorney.
These individuals have years of experience filing patents and they can help you navigate this complicated system.
This is especially useful if this is your first time filing for a patent.
Patents can also be expensive to file and an attorney can help you save on costs if your patent is rejected and you need to file again.
How Much Does Patenting a Card Game Cost?
There are two different costs that you are likely to face when filing a patent for a card game.
The first costs are filing fees with the United States government.
These typically add up to just over $1,000.
These involve filing fees, and other related costs so that the government charges for individuals looking to file new patents.
The higher cost comes with the addition of an attorney.
A qualified patent attorney will cost you somewhere between $5,000 and $12,000.
This might seem like a lot of money, but if you’re about to launch a card game that’s going to take the country by storm this is a worthy investment.
Timing is one of the most important things to consider when looking at your application and it can help you save some money.
When Can You Patent a Card Game?
There’s a golden rule of filing patents that applies to almost every type of patent.
This involves the timing of your application.
The patent office offers a one-year grace period to designers and inventors filing their new patents.
This one-year clock starts from the first identifiable moment you make your design public.
Whether you’ve launched a website about your new card game in hopes of drumming up early investment, or you’re already selling copies of your game at a brick-and-mortar store, you have one year from that date to file your patent.
If you fail to file your patent after this initial year, you might be unavailable to acquire a patent in the future.
This is why many individuals keep their new card games under wraps while they are working on their patent.
This is the safest route to take if you’re looking to patent your card game before it hits the market.
Speaking of it in the market, what are the advantages of getting a card game patent?
The Advantage of Getting a Card Game Patent
The biggest advantage of having a patent for your card game is being able to prevent competitors from stealing your idea.
If your card game takes off, you can expect that competitors will want to get in on this new territory.
With a patent in hand, you can use legal action up to and including lawsuits to prevent other companies from replicating your design.
Having a patent for your card game one of the smartest plays that a new game designer can make.