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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

News Item: Catan Blog and Gaming Litigation


 Klaus Teuber, the designer of Settlers of Catan, has been blogging about his efforts to re-implement his Catan card game (currently titled Princes of Catan).  The fifth part was recently posted, but if you're interested in how to redesign or re-implement an existing game, its worth reading from the beginning.  The links to all five articles can be found here.

Interestingly, in his latest post, Teuber has to defend himself from accusations that he is making the game 'too easy.'  His phrase is "appropriate for the public."  Understandably, gaming aficionados who enjoy the current complexity are aghast at their game being "dumbed down" for family style play.  Teuber responds that the game will have an "Introductory" style play separate and apart form the base game.  The introductory game will familiarize the players with the basic mechanics, but will not allow for every element to be in play.  In this way, the complex element of the basic game remains, but allows for a family or newbie variant.

In principle, I don't have a problem with it.  I fully endorse games like Agricola that have a 'family style' and a 'complex style' to choose from.  It allows the game to accommodate different groups.  Though I love complexity, some very deep games (Caylus springs to mind) are basically eliminated from any group that isn't already immersed in the board gaming hobby.

On a second note, I had to touch on the litigation over "Would you rather?"  As a legally inclined individual, something that touches both board games and the law piques my interest.

Two different companies, Falls Media and Zobmondo, began using the phrase "Would you Rather" to sell their products.  Falls filed first for the Trademark and made books with that title before Zobmondo.  But Zobmondo made its Would you Rather game before Falls.  The District Court ruled for Zobmondo as a matter of law (meaning that there was no relevant fact dispute and the law required a ruling for one party).

For a trademark to be protected, it usually has to be more than merely "descriptive."  It has to at least be "suggestive."  The District Court found that "Would you rather" was only descriptive of the game, and therefore, there was no trademark right for Falls Media and they lost.  On appeal, the Ninth Circuit disagreed.  They stated that, the mark could be "suggestive" because an ordinary consumer might see the phrase "Would you Rather?" but not necessarily know that it involved a game of funny choices.  While it might still be merely descriptive, it wasn't descriptive as a matter of law.  So, they sent the case back down to the lower court for a trial.

At this point, the parties will go through a trial and produce evidence of what "Would you Rather" means to consumers.  It's quite a dry read, but if you want to take a look at the appellate decision, you can find it here.

1 comment:

  1. i think kids should play some children education games which will help them in their study too.thanks for sharing the post here with us.