First, you want to ask yourself if you need or want to patent a board game. If you are a small indie board game creator who is looking to give the game to his friends family and the surrounding area. Then to patent a board game might not be the right idea. You can maybe copy right some of your artwork instead. However, if you are a large board game publishers, or even a small publisher with a vision and desire to one day become a big-time player, then patenting the board game you are working on is essential.
In our days there are fake copies of most of the best selling games out there. These counterfeit board games are sold online and in other channels to people all over the world. While an original copy can cost $50-150, the fake board games are selling for $5-40.
Well, this is again specific for each board game. But, by and large, there are two types of patents, a utility patent that for a novice utility that has yet to come into the market, and the second type is a design patent which protects the way the unique design of an object/item. In board games, aside from new things like the dice in “Dice Forge,”. There aren’t too many new mechanisms and tools that are being invented, and that can be under a utility patent. Therefore the best option for protecting a board game is a design patent that patents the combination of mechanisms, cards, components, and pictures used in the game
Aside from a Design Patent, a company can also Trademark its logo and name, and copyright the artwork. However, these two methods will not completely protect your board game. In both cases, it is enough to change a small part of the work or words to avoid infringement. For example, if a factory wants to counterfeit a card game lets say “7 wonders” all they need to do is change it to “8 wonders”. In copyright as well, they should only change a small part of the picture to avoid infringement.
A trademark or copyright will help only if the counterfeiter makes or sells the same exact game one to one, or if he is selling damaged goods that you didn’t authorize.
However, with a design patent, even if the counterfeiter changed the art or name, the mechanics of the game and the overall gameplay stay the same, so your game is protected.
You can patent your board game in any country in the world, and starting from the country of your primary market will be a good start, However, if you are looking to protect against counterfeiters, you should really consider patenting your game in the counterfeit capital of the world. While, in developed countries, people, in general, avoid counterfeiting of making a one to one copy of your game, in China and some other less-developed countries, this concept is still not fully absorbed and practiced.
Therefore if your budget is low, the first place for you to patent your board game will be none other than China itself. Once the Chinese government is backing your IP, no factory and no store will ever dare touch a fake game of any sort. Plus, the cost of a design patent in China is extremely low, and the process is quite fast.
The same goes for a trademark or copyright; once it is registered in China, you can shut down any factory or any store that sells it, whether brick and mortar or online, whether selling in China or other countries.
In all countries, the process is similar. First, there is a need to search in the government database to see if anyone already registered a similar patent or trademark for a board game. Once the search is complete and there is an authorization that no one previously used the specific game or trademark, then we can apply for a design patent or trademark. After applying, it takes time for the official body to examine the application, and then some time to register it.
That aspect depends on each country. In the USA a design patent and trademark can take anywhere between 10-12 months, in Europe it is between 8-12 months, but in China a trademark is up to 8 months, and a design patent takes only 4-5 months.
Yes. Hero Time has an exclusive cooperation with DeWei, one of the largest corporate law firms in China, and offers board game creators and publishers help with protecting their games. We wish to protect creators and publishers from losing their IP.
Also, we help sign OEM agreements between large publishers and factories to ensure full coverage of IP and to stop the factory from ever revealing or sharing any of the sensitive information they got about the company.
P.S – if your work has already been counterfeited and sold in various stores, call us to discuss a course of action.
Every board game has a different number of mechanisms, components, and game play so it largely depends on the game and the country / region you apply to. But for a general estimate, the prices are as follows:
Initial Search: $100
Design Patent: $500-1200
Utility Patent: $2500-6000
OEM agreement signed in the presence of a lawyer: $450
Copy Right: $400 per piece.
Initial Search: $100
Design Patent: $2000-3500
*Prices are in USD