Board Games and Intellectual Property

Gerard Magliocca

Gerard N. Magliocca is the Samuel R. Rosen Professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Professor Magliocca is the author of three books and over twenty articles on constitutional law and intellectual property. He received his undergraduate degree from Stanford, his law degree from Yale, and joined the faculty after two years as an attorney at Covington and Burling and one year as a law clerk for Judge Guido Calabresi on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Professor Magliocca has received the Best New Professor Award and the Black Cane (Most Outstanding Professor) from the student body, and in 2008 held the Fulbright-Dow Distinguished Research Chair of the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, The Netherlands. He was elected to the American Law Institute (ALI) in 2013.

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4 Responses

  1. Bruce Boyden says:

    Great question Gerard. It seems intuitive that the availability of “MIlwaukeeopoly” or whatever does not really reduce demand that much for Monopoly. (My intuitions are subject to being displaced by actual facts.) My own theory for copyright at least is that board games are not copyrightable, except for their surface appearance as opposed to the substance of how they play, because they are systems for game play excluded by 102(b). And I think that might explain why they do well without protection for game-play elements, because one value of a successful system is the network benefits of other people using the same system. Why do people play “Hearts” and “Spades” but not “Clubs” or “Diamonds”? It’s because no one else plays “Clubs,” so there’s an initial learning curve, and also a lack of an authoritative source on the rules. Which leads to an interesting question about what exactly the rules of Monopoly are, the ones everybody uses, or the fairly different ones that Hasbro actually prints.

  2. paean says:

    Have you done any sort of comparison of the market value of these, uh “fields”? Team sports, fonts and magic tricks? Is there really a lot of economically valuable innovation there as compared to the smartphone industry?

  3. Gerard Magliocca says:

    Well, I didn’t say that they are comparable to miracle drugs and your iPhone. But I suppose you’d have to read the book and decide for yourself whether they are significant innovative businesses.

  4. Joe says:

    The movie “Clue” was on recently & I was looking into it and reading the story behind the game on Wikipedia, it was explained that it was originally a British invention and the inventor did get a patent for it. The laws in British of course might be different than here on this question. The page has a link that sources this tidbit so those interested can check it out.