Lancaster, NY asked in Intellectual Property and Patents (Intellectual Property) for New York

Q: Is it legal for someone to claim a patent on a game that has been played around the world for so long?

How can this person legally claim to have invented Pickleball? Is there a money involved in this? It’s like if I, an American, claim to invent rice.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: In general, for someone to claim a patent on a concept, the idea must be new, non-obvious, and useful. If a game has been widely played and known for a long time, it's unlikely that someone could successfully patent the game itself, as it would not meet the criteria for novelty. Patenting something that is already public knowledge or has a long history, like claiming to have invented a traditional game or common food, would typically not be viable.

However, it is possible for someone to hold a patent on specific new improvements or technologies related to an existing game, such as new equipment designs or unique methods of playing. These would have to be genuine innovations that hadn't been part of the public domain before the patent application. When it comes to something like claiming to have invented Pickleball, if the game has been around and has been publicly known, patenting the game itself would not be possible. Yet, modifications or specific tools related to the game could potentially be patented if they are indeed new inventions.

There is often money involved in patents, as they can provide the holder with the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a certain period. This can lead to licensing deals, royalties, or other financial benefits. If there are doubts or disputes over a patent or its legitimacy, legal advice and consultation with a patent attorney can provide clarity and assistance.

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