October 25, 2015 — Board games can be protected using a number of intellectual property tools including copyright, trademarks and patents.
Copyright Protection For Board Games
If a board game includes any written or pictorial element such as an instruction or direction for users, it should be filed as a literary work with the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC). An easy way to do this is through the online copyright registration portal maintained by the NCC. Currently, there are 986 literary works listed on the NCC’s online copyright registration portal.
In writing your instructions for the board game, keep in mind alternative methods of play and how the game can be modified.
Trademark Protection for Games
As a game creator, you can protect the name, slogans, and the logo of your board game through trademark protection registration. For example, ‘Monopoly’ has been registered as a trademark in Class 28 in Nigeria with respect to the line of board games.
It is important to understand that trademark protection will not prevent the names and slogans of your board game from been used in everyday speeches but registration prevents competitors in the market from using your name or slogan to market their products. It is also important to remember that the protection offered by trademark registration only covers the name, slogan and logo and not the game itself. For this reason, a competitor can produce a similar game and you cannot challenge their action using trademark laws although there may be other legal protection that you can use against them.
Patenting Board Games
Board games can be patented if they meet the requirements for patenting inventions in Nigeria i.e. they must be new, involve an inventive step and be capable of industrial applicability.
Inventive activity is defined in Section 1(2)(b) of the Act as follows: “an invention results from an inventive activity if it does not obviously follow from the state of the art, either as to the method, the application, the combination of methods, or the product which it concerns, or as to the industrial result it produces.”
Therefore, if a board game is unique, it can be patented since board games involve processes.
This article is intended to provide general information about the subject matter. Professional legal advice should be sought about specific circumstances