Reply To: Legality of Fan AGI/SCI games

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(re: re: Legality of Fan AGI/SCI games) “…Ken, how much did it cost to register a patent for a game? It seems like it would be expensive, hiring lawyers, paperwork… “
There are a thousand answers to this question. Basically, a patent can cost hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars, or even tens of thousands of dollars. It’s entirely up to you.
The important issue is the quality of your patent when it is done. There are patents on file that were poorly researched, and wouldn’t stand up in court. There are patents that are so narrow that they are essentially worthless. A perfect patent would be one that will a) stand up in court, and b) is sufficiently broad as to provide you some real protection.
Generally, you get what you pay for with law firms. If you use a no-name lawfirm, you may get a patent for $500 – but, the odds are that you won’t have much of a patent. On the other hand, the odds are good that if you use a top silicon valley firm, and pay them $15,000 you will have a good solid patent when you finish — assuming you had something worth patenting in the first place.
I think we generally spent in the $10-30,000 range for our patents (in legal fees).
I never found that patents did much for us. Frequently I saw someone who would be stepping on one or more of our patents, but it costs money to pursue a patent claim against someone. There aren’t patent police out there who you can call to complain that someone is stepping on your patent.
Here’s what I mean…
Let’s say you patent something, and then see someone who is blatantly (in your opinion) stepping on your patent. Here’s what happens. You call your lawyer to complain. There went $500. Now your lawyer writes the alleged offender a letter asking them to cease their infringement. There goes another $500. Back will come a letter denying infringement. You guessed it – there goes another $500. Now, let’s say you decide to sue. Now we’re talking $200,000 or so. PLUS I’ve seen the following happen: the judge decides to pull the infringing product off the market, but only if you post a bond representing the value of the offending product – which can cost you millions.
The bottom line: patents are good, and it is definitely worth pursuing a patent when you create something original. That said, protecting your patent can be costly, and obtaining a good patent can be costly. It’s not all as simple as some people might have you believe.
-Ken W
PS I’m not a lawyer. Anything I say may or may not be accurate. If there are any intellectual property lawyers who read this – feel free to correct any errors.