Monday, May 01, 2006

I spoke too soon: more on patented board games

What is so egregious about the patent I described in the previous post is that the "new" idea is simply the theme of a board game about pregnancy. This is not only obvious, but has prior art. But in order to make the patent pass, the submitter had to describe the mechanism, since patents apply to mechanisms, not ideas. So the mechanism was a board game with spaces representing stages of pregnancy. Whoop-de-do.

I headed over to the patent site to see what other nonsense is being patented. I thought I was prepared for anything, but I was shocked. Here are the latest patent applications for board and card games:

7029281: A card game where the cards have questions and answers. You pick a card in someone else's hand, and if you guess the right answer to the question, you get the card. If you get a certain number of cards, you win.

7029010: The game of Oh Hell, except scoring is on a pegboard with a picture of donuts and some dice.

7025353: A horse racing trivia game, where you answer a question after rolling the dice and landing on a space.

7025352 : A game that looks like a book when folded, and is a roll and move game based on a book.

7021629: A card game with 28 cards each with a letter of the alphabet and a star. Players form words until one person can't.

7021628: An 18x18 checkerboard.

7021627: A roll and move set collection trading game.

7021626: A roll and move game purporting to teach the spiritual biblical rules to personal financial success.

7032902: A poker variant, where you divide three cards into two piles.

7029011: A poker variant, where a jackpot is awarded to people who folded if remaining players exceed some limit.

7017910: A deck of cards with words like "I need" or "I"m sorry about" that is supposed to be a social ice breaker.

And that is only from April, 2006!

These are non-obvious "mechanisms"? Patents exist so that someone who comes up with a unique and non-obvious new mechanism is encouraged to share it with society. Patenting these is going to encourage creative production in our society?


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