Patent for a board game in Russia

Recently, Anton Endresyak and I started the second season of the podcast on intellectual property “Copicast”, and in the new issue they discussed the issue of the legal protection of the board game as an object of intellectual property. Along the way, we have debunked the myth of the impossibility of patenting board games in Russia. I will retell something from our conversation and will add a little.

How can I get exclusive rights to a board game? It is obvious that publishers can use different tools for the legal protection of nastolk: copyright for the protection of texts and images, industrial designs for the protection of design, trademarks for the protection of the brand.

Usually, the statement of the list of available means ends there, and the sad fact is stated: all this allows you to protect the external design of the game, but you cannot protect it from the free copy of the essence, the mechanics. They say that abroad it is possible to patent board games as inventions, but Russian patent law does not allow this. This is a convincing confirmation - nn. 4 p. 5 art. 1350 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation , according to which inventions, “rules and methods of games” are not inventions, in particular.

It is interesting that both Russian publishing houses and intellectual property lawyers are convinced of the impossibility of obtaining a Russian patent for a board game. The Mosigra Publishers article “Would you like to show you a market without patent law?” Speaks of the Russian legal field as being isolated from the patenting of board games and describes its observations on this particular environment. And an intellectual property lawyer cuts off his shoulder : “In Russia, it’s impossible to protect the mechanics (process, rules of the game) with the methods of copyright or patent right”.

Well ... The call is accepted!

Do you want me to show you the world where you can get a Russian patent for a board game and protect its mechanics from copying?

No, well, really. Is it not strange if the creator of the game cannot get full legal protection of his creative work? Is it really possible to protect only external tinsel like decorations and texts, but it is impossible to provide protection for the most valuable in its creation - gameplay, game mechanics? If so, then for creators of the desktop all the fourth part of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation is some kind of mockery.

We'll figure out.

Indeed, Russian law does not allow to patent the rules and methods of games. There is no such indication in US law, and American lawyers have no doubt that you can get exclusive rights to the mechanics of the game. This is confirmed by a large number of patents on board games, including the well-known Monopoly , Magic: The Gathering , variations of Dungeons & Dragons, and others.

Many desktop patents can be found in other countries. Here, for example, a French patent for a board game, where you need to collect crystals, moving on a special playing field:

And here is an Indian patent for a certain game of cubes:

And now attention. Patent laws of many countries, including France, Sweden, India, the Philippines and others, like Russian law, do not recognize the rules and methods of games as objects of patent protection. The ban on patenting the rules and methods of games exists in the International Patent System (PCT), in which many countries participate, including both Russia and the United States.
However, apparently, this regulation does not bother foreign developers at all, and they confidently register new and new patents for board games!

How so?

The fact is that mechanics is much more or even more significant than the rules of the game. Game mechanics implies the way the player interacts with the game and, accordingly, includes the game interface itself. By themselves, the “rules” of the game relate rather to player relationships with each other, rather than with the game, while the “methods” themselves relate to the player's approach to the mechanics already laid out by game designers.

This is what Indian lawyers write :

“The states that it is a rule of law or a method of playing a game can’t be protected as a patent. It makes it possible for you to , it may be patentable as well! ”
“ Patent law states that “a simple scheme or rules or game method” cannot be protected as a patent. Therefore, if the creator of a board game has developed something more than just the rules or method of the game, and at the same time it is something new, has an inventive level and is industrially applicable (in this case, in the production of board games), this may well be patentable ! ”

Thus, in other countries where the patent law in this respect duplicates the provisions of Russian law, the applicants do not see a problem in registering rights to the mechanics of board games.

Therefore, it is no less accessible for Russian developers. And there are examples of this in Russia: one , two , three .

Provisions on the inadmissibility of patenting the rules and methods of games appeared in the Patent Law of the Russian Federation only in 2003, and from there they moved to the fourth part of the Civil Code. The study of legislative materials relating to these amendments shows that no one particularly attached importance to this novel, which, apparently, was only the result of borrowing foreign regulatory material. In other words, no one in 2003 was concerned about the need to prevent game mechanics from patenting and did not seek to do so.

Usually, a patent for registration of a board game in Russia is claimed as a way to solve any deficiencies in existing games of a certain kind; This invention is designed to bring improved balance to one or another well-known game mechanics, to modify it. This is fully consistent with this feature of patentability as a technical solution to the problem (the problem itself does not necessarily have to be technical, industrial).

Thus, in order to obtain a patent for a board game, one should describe the general features of the corresponding type of games, point out the existing shortcomings and propose a solution in the form of a proprietary version of these games. For example, the applicant of a patent for stock-chess chess indicated that there are well-known classical chess, and their disadvantage is too few cells. The solution is simple: let the cells be as much as 100! In general, a comprehensive solution to the problem includes such elements as the introduction of the figures “General” and “Jester”, the royal vertical and other additions. The invention is ready.

It is interesting, is it possible to get a patent for a board game in Russia, which can not be attributed to any previously existing category of games? I think so, but it is hardly possible to create a game that does not even have remote prototypes, so this is a topic for a separate, less practical discussion.

The truth is that in Russia board games are almost not patented. Too many are convinced that this would be illegal. Russian patents on the desktop are very few, most of them have already expired. Is it good?

In the aforementioned article of Mosigra, it was suggested that the lack of patents on games allows publishers to compete in price and quality of similar games, and this is useful for the consumer. True, but there is a downside: the lack of patents does not allow competition to develop in the originality of the game mechanic, which is why publishers sometimes prefer to copy an already ready solution instead of creating something new.

Perhaps that is why for most Russians the idea of ​​board games was too long limited to classic games (chess, backgammon, dominoes, etc.) and the Monopoly, numerous clones of which flooded the market. Board game sellers often complain that too many buyers still come to the store, full of various games, only for the Monopoly. Sellers again and again explain that Monopoly is the last century, that there are many other great games, but most consumers are getting used to this diversity.

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