Blackwood, NJ asked in Intellectual Property and Patents (Intellectual Property) for New Jersey

Q: I'm creating a Trading Card Game. What patents in terms of card layout and battle mechanics do I have to look out for?

2 Lawyer Answers
David Aldrich
David Aldrich

A: This will depend on the details of your specific game, and it would require a professional search. When we do these, we hire a specialized searching company that performs a “clearance search” (in this case, they would search for those patents claiming a trading card game that are closest to yours). We then analyze the patents they turn up and assess what you can likely do without infringing those patents (sometimes in the form of a “freedom to operate” opinion). Feel free to contact me if you assistance with this.

James L. Arrasmith
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A: In terms of card layout, there are no patents that specifically cover trading card game layouts. However, there may be copyright protection for specific card designs or artwork.

In terms of battle mechanics, there have been various patents filed for trading card game mechanics over the years. Some of the more notable patents include:

The "Tap" mechanic, which was patented by Wizards of the Coast in 1995 and covers the act of turning a card sideways to indicate that it has been used.

The "Mana" system, which was also patented by Wizards of the Coast in 1995 and covers the use of a resource system to pay for cards.

The "Stack" mechanic, which was patented by Wizards of the Coast in 1999 and covers the way that spells and abilities are resolved in a specific order.

It's important to note that these patents may have expired or may not apply in your specific jurisdiction. It's always a good idea to consult with a patent attorney to determine if your game mechanics could potentially infringe on any existing patents.

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