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Matthew Rivaldi
Matthew Rivaldi's picture

Great question Paul,

Reading the Word Thief BGG page over, my feeling is that it shouldn't pose an IP conflict because the games are so dissimilar. Why? AB doesn't use cards or suits (tiles), players don't steal words (the use bandit tiles to steal, flip, banish letters), there is no poker chips to add up the scores (players add up points based on letter count and bonuses)...therefore I don't think that copyright or patent issues would be any problem. Of course Outset could see the issue differently, and that would be their right to disagree.

Here's some more comments on why it shouldn't be an issue:

COPYRIGHT: Imagine games not having dwarfs, wizards or 12 sided dice because another company used them first? Imagine movies about zombies not being made, because someone had already created a zombie movie? Zombie movies (like word games) are OK to make, as long as they don't copy someone else's work word for word (the exception being movies in the public domain like Night of the Living Dead http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Living_Dead ... which is another conversation). I guess someone could also mention Scrabble, Banagrams, Pijin, Turbo Words, Kerflip as being of similar game play. My personal feeling is that you have to own the work as your own, similar to an author writing a manuscript. Does the game feel like a clone of another game (like it got full-on ripped off) or does it stand on it's own and just have a similar theme?

PATENT: For games that are patented (most aren't), you would have to copy the mechanics of the game as a knock-off, and not improve on them. Patents aren't meant to limit inventors from improving on a mechanism, but are meant to keep companies from profiting off the exact mechanism. There is no IP issues on patent at all.

TRADEMARK: A consumer purchasing Alpha Bandits would have to be confused in that they were actually purchasing Word Thief in order for there to be a trademark issue. My feeling here is that they names are completely different and also connote different meanings. The definition of Bandit is "a robber or outlaw belonging to a gang and typically operating in an isolated or lawless area..." which is key to the game, because it's not just about stealing letters (thief), but messing with people's words by banishing, flipped and acting generally devious (bandit).