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View Full Version : Could Hex be sued for copyright by WOTC



kidhavoc
05-30-2013, 09:26 AM
Don't know if the question has been asked but the underlying engine of the game (as much as we know so far) uses pretty much Magic the Gathering's card engine and the interface from Duels of the Planeswalker 201x. Yes, there are a few difference in it (like the charge power and threshold cost), but the phases and turn sequence is pretty much MTG to a tee.

Has Hex paid some type of royalty I wonder to allow them to use the MTG engine to WotC, or is this a lawsuit just waiting to happen if not?

Tyrfang
05-30-2013, 09:28 AM
Design patent for MTG expired.

There might be other intellectual property infringements, like trademark issues or trade dress issues, but they seem to be quite careful at not having the same logos or even keywords, except with commonly used English words like sacrifice.

EDIT: In addition, they are making their own engine, not licensing (that's what the process of the business borrowing of someone else's program is generally called) DOTP's engine.

kidhavoc
05-30-2013, 09:29 AM
So this is how they are bypassing the patent?

kirkwb
05-30-2013, 09:31 AM
If you don't even know what Copyrights mean or protect, you probably shouldn't be asking questions like this.

MatWith1T
05-30-2013, 09:32 AM
If they should be afraid of anyone, it should be Blizzard coming after them for stealing Lady Sylvanas

http://hextcg.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/ElfWarlock.jpg

(I'm totally kidding... but seriously... that's Lady Sylvanas :) )


PS - How do we resize images on here?

Tyrfang
05-30-2013, 09:32 AM
"Design patents are valid for 14 years from the date of issue."

MTGs original patent filing (September 2, 1997):
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=5,662,332.PN.&OS=PN/5,662,332&RS=PN/5,662,332

THAT SAID...I do wonder if MTG could sue for individual cards with the exact same effect.
Example: Random 1/1 trash common with no flavor text.
Probably not, as it wouldn't really qualify as being all that original. Would be a bit odd for cards that have similar effects later on...


If you don't even know what Copyrights mean or protect, you probably shouldn't be asking questions like this.

My mind just filtered out the fact that he said copyright and then asked a patent question...

MasterN64
05-30-2013, 09:37 AM
Honestly an elf with a cloak isnt anyone but an elf with a cloak. The whole x is a copy of y because x is popular and y is new is kinda far fetched.

After all elves gained most of their popularity from Lord of the Rings so they are all ripping of them right? Hardly.

kidhavoc
05-30-2013, 09:37 AM
I'm only concerned that this game could get crushed by legal wranglings because of Copyright or Patent infringement. Has any of the Devs talked about issues pertaining of the similarity between the games?

Fleckenwhatever
05-30-2013, 09:40 AM
I'm only concerned that this game could get crushed by legal wranglings because of Copyright or Patent infringement. Has any of the Devs talked about issues pertaining of the similarity between the games?

They've been working on this for two years and you are of the opinion that this hasn't come up yet?

And I thought I had little faith in humanity.

Tyrfang
05-30-2013, 09:41 AM
I'm only concerned that this game could get crushed by legal wranglings because of Copyright or Patent infringement. Has any of the Devs talked about issues pertaining of the similarity between the games?

There's no patent in effect on MTG's game design. Interface is quite different.

I doubt there's potential copyright issues EXCEPT in situations where there's a rather MTG unique card whose effect is duplicated verbatim in Hex. But seeing as how they opened with the Spectral Lotus, which is effectively a copy of a Black Lotus, I think they have already taken steps to clearing it with their legal department.

Moondancer
05-30-2013, 09:41 AM
Wizards probably could find something to get into a legal bind over but there really isnt that much cross over in markets Hex is going after a different market, and will probably bring magic more business in their paper game by doing so. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

MrCwis
05-30-2013, 09:43 AM
In my opinion since Cryptozoic has spent the past couple years in developement of this game that they've probably have had some legal meetings about this. But I'll see if i can differentiate the two.

Land vs Resources
Magic has land each land taps for mana of a specific color or colorless, and some have other abilities which you tap(turn sideways) to activate.

Hex has resource cards, these don't seem to go into play or have to be tapped for mana, instead they give you three things at the basic level an increase in renewable resource points, a threshold counter, and a charge to your champion. Some at higher rarities may have other effects.

Keywords, and Card types

Magic has Creatures, Instants, sorceries, enchantments as card types

Hex has Troops, quick actions, basic actions and constants. All different names and all a common theme in TCGs.

I don't want to list keywords but all the names are different, although many have the same or similar meaning in plain english. As well many are common in most TCGs and aren't exclusive to MtG

Something Hex has that magic doesn't are Champions that have specific charge powers that can be used once you've played enough resource cards.

just a quick run down of the major differences/similarities

Tyrfang
05-30-2013, 09:43 AM
Wizards probably could find something to get into a legal bind over but there really isnt that much cross over in markets Hex is going after a different market, and will probably bring magic more business in their paper game by doing so. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

I'm sure HASBRO isn't particularly happy about any competitor coming into the market, let alone one that has very similar mechanics. They will be watching very closely, but if a cease and desist order hasn't come yet, with the amount of publicity the game has gotten, I doubt it'll be coming after beta, because all that would be is a PR fiasco for Hasbro.

Mavian
05-30-2013, 09:43 AM
I'm only concerned that this game could get crushed by legal wranglings because of Copyright or Patent infringement. Has any of the Devs talked about issues pertaining of the similarity between the games?

No because it's not an issue. Almost every TCG in existence uses player phases and upkeep with different names which avoids patent and copyright issues. And more to the point, CZE has made many, many games including another TCG with similar MTG mechanics and a multitude of deck builders. I'm sure if Wizards or Hasbro had any legal leg to stand on, they probably would've already gone after the WoW TCG years ago.

jaxsonbateman
05-30-2013, 09:51 AM
Something Hex has that magic doesn't are Champions that have specific charge powers that can be used once you've played enough resource cards.
Actually, champions are pretty much the vanguard casual variant of Magic. :-P

Liokae
05-30-2013, 10:04 AM
Actually, champions are pretty much the vanguard casual variant of Magic. :-P

It's also pretty much the generic concept of a character that gains power with experience. Are we going to get sued by WotC for infringing on D&D now, too?

Some things are simply too generic to try and claim ownership.

Surlakin
05-30-2013, 10:09 AM
Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an authorís expression in literary, artistic, or musical form.

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html

whythelastman
05-30-2013, 10:15 AM
Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an authorís expression in literary, artistic, or musical form.

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html

Thanks for this!

kidhavoc
05-30-2013, 10:22 AM
Wow this post blew out of proportion. The main idea of the post was to state if Hex could be in legal trouble because of use of the card engine or terms used in either MTG or DoTP. Things like upkeep and first main phase (which we see used in the demo) as these are terms of phases that Magic uses. Now this could be a place holder to be renamed later which could happen.

Hibbert
05-30-2013, 10:28 AM
Copyright infringement? No. Unless they copy the exact text of a rulebook, or a piece of art off a card, there's no case for copyright infringement. Rules, mechanics, and such are not copyrightable.

Trademarks infringement? Nope. Trademarks cover specific titles("Magic: the Gathering or Ravnica) or logos (the tap or mana symbols). Hex uses none of this.

The specificness of copyright and trademark is what allows Words with Friends to be a clone of Scrabble. You can copy the rules, but not the names.

Patent infringement is the only area that's a bit grey. WotC does have a patent that covers a lot of TCG mechanics, including tapping, customizable decks, libraries, etc. Aside from the tapping part, it's VERY broad though. That can be a bad thing in trying to defend a patent. Also it was filed in 1997, so there's a bunch of "prior art", in the form of every other TCG that came out between Magic and 1997. Prior art is examples of the use of your "invention" prior to the patent, which can invalidate your patent. Also there's the simple fact that this patent is expiring.

IANAL, but the WotC patent is probably just a protective patent. Had some patent troll agency decided to file a similar patent, they might be able to charge WotC huge licensing fees or they would have to defend it in court(lawyers are expensive). By filing it themselves, they are protected, even if they don't plan on enforcing it against other companies. The only time litigation came up concerning it(that I know of at least) is when the Pokemon TCG license changed hands, and there were a lot of other issues in play there.

Perikles
05-30-2013, 10:29 AM
IANAL, but I've always been told that game mechanics cannot be patented or protected.

thx42
05-30-2013, 10:38 AM
Wow this post blew out of proportion. The main idea of the post was to state if Hex could be in legal trouble because of use of the card engine or terms used in either MTG or DoTP. Things like upkeep and first main phase (which we see used in the demo) as these are terms of phases that Magic uses. Now this could be a place holder to be renamed later which could happen.

Well, I think it's an important question. My confidence in the game goes down a whole lot if there's a risk of it being shut down by a lawsuit. Everyone here is just speculating that CZE wouldn't be doing this if there were going to be a problem, but I don't think we've heard any official response on the topic.

Tyrfang
05-30-2013, 10:42 AM
Meh...WoW had dozens of clones at one time, but I don't think that Actibliz ever won lawsuits against them.

__X__
05-30-2013, 11:06 AM
MTGs original patent filing (September 2, 1997):
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=5,662,332.PN.&OS=PN/5,662,332&RS=PN/5,662,332


Thanks for this. That was a pretty cool read.

Stok3d
05-30-2013, 11:09 AM
This was obviously a priority 1 discussion and and planned out from the start.


but I don't think we've heard any official response on the topic.
Do you think it's wise for a CZE employee to write in thread admittance to copyright infringe and that they got themselves covered? All that we have is faith--and anyone with half a brain would have got attorney's involved from the start.

I believe CZE has done their due diligence. This should not be a concern.

Deadpool319
05-30-2013, 11:11 AM
Cryptozoic is a company and therefore has legal representation in some form (Either an internal legal person(s) or lawyers on retainer) to protect themselves, their assets, and their intellectual properties. If they've made it this far, they've done their due diligence and there isn't anything further to discuss. Pledge on KS and enjoy the beta in September!

houjix
05-30-2013, 11:13 AM
Cryptozoic is a company and therefore has legal representation in some form (Either an internal legal person(s) or lawyers on retainer) to protect themselves, their assets, and their intellectual properties. If they've made it this far, they've done their due diligence and there isn't anything further to discuss. Pledge on KS and enjoy the beta in September!

This. As a company that has their own IPs and licenses IPs from other companies, their legal team knows what they are doing.

Derium
05-30-2013, 11:16 AM
I seriously can not believe any of you think there is a risk of HEX being shut down. Next time you play ANY other card game, any WoW clone, eat an off brand food/drink, play a generic board game, ect ect ect, please think about how bad of a question that really is.

kirkwb
05-30-2013, 11:19 AM
Holy cow, I can't wait to draft against many of you...

Stok3d
05-30-2013, 11:30 AM
I seriously can not believe any of you think there is a risk of HEX being shut down. Next time you play ANY other card game, any WoW clone, eat an off brand food/drink, play a generic board game, ect ect ect, please think about how bad of a question that really is.

With the eventual Success of Hex and crippling effect it's going to have to MTGO, I would be surprised if WotC didn't at least try to sue. I just think this concern is in the back of CZE's mind and their attorny's with every move they make.


BTW: I read somewhere that all the patents expire right at the time Hex gets launched. Not sure of the legitimacy of this, but read it on an MTGO site. I'll have to search around and see if I can find it.

cronedog
05-30-2013, 11:53 AM
IANAL, but I've always been told that game mechanics cannot be patented or protected.

This is not correct, game mechanics are the patentable material of a game. My next few points are not directed to you.

*The patent that WOTC has is not a design patent.
* Contrary to the OP and a few other post, there is virtually no case for copyright violation, the patent is more worrisome.
* Other concepts that are super common to many games like rolling dice aren't protected by patent, so they can't be compared to game mechanics that are protected.

For copyright violation, one party must prove that the two works could be confused for each other by the average person. One example was a b-rated film called "hobbits" coming direct to dvd the same time as "the hobbit". New line cinema took the film poster for the hobbit and made another one chaning the title to something else. They then contracted a third party to show the two powers to different people and measured the brand confusion to "the hobbit". New line one the lawsuit as the results were clear that people only mistook "hobbits" for "the hobbit" because of the title.

source: I work in patent law.

kidhavoc
05-30-2013, 12:02 PM
i have ammeneded the original post to include patent as well. Thank you

Tyrfang
05-30-2013, 12:03 PM
*The patent that WOTC has is not a design patent.


Well, the patent WOTC has IS a design patent, it just happens to have expired already.

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=5,662,332.PN.&OS=PN/5,662,332&RS=PN/5,662,332

Stok3d
05-30-2013, 12:15 PM
Well, the patent WOTC has IS a design patent, it just happens to have expired already.

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=5,662,332.PN.&OS=PN/5,662,332&RS=PN/5,662,332

Yep, these type of patents last 14years and this was done September 2, 1997. CZE is in the clear.

WotC doesn't have a leg to stand on.

ForgedSol
05-30-2013, 12:42 PM
But can they sue without the intention of winning, but rather with the intention of delaying the game's release as long as possible to give them time to make things happen on their end?

Stok3d
05-30-2013, 12:46 PM
But can they sue without the intention of winning, but rather with the intention of delaying the game's release as long as possible to give them time to make things happen on their end?

They can try to sue all they want, but I don't believe it legally possible for them to send a cease and desist letter. All they could possibly do is try for further financial recourse.

cronedog
05-30-2013, 01:06 PM
Well, the patent WOTC has IS a design patent, it just happens to have expired already.

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=5,662,332.PN.&OS=PN/5,662,332&RS=PN/5,662,332

This is NOT a design patent. It is a utility patent. Design patents start with a D, such as http://www.google.com/patents/USD98617?printsec=claims#v=onepage&q&f=false

Design patents only have a single claim that says something like "I claim the device as pictured above."

cronedog
05-30-2013, 01:07 PM
Oh and also, the term is 20 years from filing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Term_of_patent_in_the_United_States

Tyrfang
05-30-2013, 01:13 PM
Got it, thanks for clearing that up and sorry for the misinformation.

That said, the patent was filed in June 1994 according to that document, so it would have expired after 17 years, or around June 2011, correct?

Stok3d
05-30-2013, 01:47 PM
removed

cronedog
05-30-2013, 01:50 PM
Got it, thanks for clearing that up and sorry for the misinformation.

That said, the patent was filed in June 1994 according to that document, so it would have expired after 17 years, or around June 2011, correct?

Almost. The newest system is 20 years from oldest filing, but the old standards were years from Patent Issue. So take the issue date of 9/2/97 +17 years for 9/2/14.

As an aside, the switch was made because companies were sometimes purposefully delaying prosecution for decades, to extend their patent rights. To clarify, lets say you make an invention that is so forward thinking, you might be more profitiable by pushing back your 17 year term.

Deathfog
05-30-2013, 06:23 PM
CCGs have never been copyrightable, there was a huge boom of similar games around when Ice Age/Revised game out. Specific terms maybe, but systems no.

Derium
05-30-2013, 06:34 PM
With the eventual Success of Hex and crippling effect it's going to have to MTGO, I would be surprised if WotC didn't at least try to sue. I just think this concern is in the back of CZE's mind and their attorny's with every move they make.


BTW: I read somewhere that all the patents expire right at the time Hex gets launched. Not sure of the legitimacy of this, but read it on an MTGO site. I'll have to search around and see if I can find it.

it would be frivolous, and VERY looked down on if they tried that.

Think of it this way, Wizards has a "do not reprint" list right? And they are bound to it. yet, they "reprint" VERY similar cards and say "hey, it's not the exact same" and it works. That's pretty much what MMOs/TCGs/Board games do. There is a set model that works, and everyone comes close to copying someone else, but they put enough of a spin on it to consider it different.

As long as HEX doesn't use things like the tap symbol and whatnot, then Wizards (Hasbro) wouldn't even bat an eye. MTGO isn't going anywhere, with their option to print physical cards, and offering some MAJOR events on MTGO. It will always be the #1 online TCG. Just way too much money in it for everyone involved.

Milamber
05-30-2013, 07:21 PM
Eeerrrr no

ForgedSol
05-30-2013, 07:41 PM
If they sue, (if they can) it legitimizes Cryptozoic as a threat. They other thing they can do is just make a good version of Magic Online. Hex won't explode in player growth over night. It's going to take time to be an actual threat. Wizards has the market and mind share to crush anyone if they have a product that is anywhere close to being on par with their competition. (I wouldn't be looking at Hex if MTGO had been better.) It's just that right now, Magic Online isn't looked at too favorably. But graphically, Hex and Duels of the Planeswalkers aren't miles apart. If Wizards could take the look of DotP and improve the UI of Magic Online (probably with a major overhaul on the backend), that's probably all they need to do rather than sue and bring attention to other games.

Lazybum
05-30-2013, 07:44 PM
never played mtgo but do miss the game in general reason i look forward to this game so much

cronedog
05-30-2013, 10:54 PM
CCGs have never been copyrightable, there was a huge boom of similar games around when Ice Age/Revised game out. Specific terms maybe, but systems no.

False, any work of art is afforded a copyright. Systems and game mechanics aren't covered by copyright.

A basic rundown of IP

Copyrights protect art
patents protect inventions, including ideas
trademark protects brands, mostly names and logos

Lets use an example. Say you invented poker and the cards used for poker.

Copyright protects the images on the cards, trademark protects the name Poker and any associated logo, and Patents would protect the game mechanics.

Zomnivore
05-30-2013, 11:23 PM
Many games reuse interfaces I doubt there's anything close to a patent on them. I doubt anyone would sue over using a commando spy in black leather shooting a silenced pistol...even though splinter cell exists as a thing.

Many games reuse systems concepts and design elements... I doubt there's a precedent for mtg to work with.

Tyrfang
05-30-2013, 11:28 PM
Well, if Hasbro can't sue Words for Friends, even though they own Scrabble, I doubt Hasbro can sue for Hex.

JTShadow
05-14-2014, 03:32 PM
Well, I guess the unthinkable happened. I don't see how Hasbro thinks they're going to win this....

Yoss
05-14-2014, 03:33 PM
Not supposed to necro year-old threads, man.