Any IP lawyers in the house?

So here’s the deal. I want to put out a video game (mobile) and very possibly a board game version of it. Now the possibly tricky part… I’m not the inventor of this game. However I checked copyright and found absolutely nothing. And I checked trademark and the status is “abandoned” as of 2 years ago. So my hope is to take this old game, modernize it, obtain all legal rights to it, and publish it in a way that it never had been back in its day. I don’t know where to even start here. Really need free/cheap info. Do I need copyrights? Trademarks? Service marks? My prototype for the board game version will definitely be made on my Glowforge. I already have big plans to make that. Even if I just end up playing it just with my son.

Who can give up all the good secrets?!


My only contribution, free of course, is that the copyright still exists with the originator, unless he sold that right on.
There may be no record of it to find, but it doesn’t alter the way copyright works.
You need to track down the original ‘designer/inventor/describer’ of the game.

I think that if he died x number of years ago, whatever the length of time assigned to copyright law in that country, it may have died with her/him, but not sure on that point.
EDIT Not sure if copyright can be inherited by her/his heirs.


To follow up on @johnbrooker’s post, in the US, copyright protection lasts lifetime plus 70 years. So, if the original is, in fact, a video game, there’s a pretty good likelihood it is still covered by copyright protection. You will need written permission from the inventor, his/her agent, or his/her estate. (

If you create a new interpretation of the game, you will want to look into registering a copyright for the design of the game board and such things. Registering a trademark could be helpful if you plan to heavily market either the video game and/or board game.

You wouldn’t need a service mark as that’s a “trademark” for a service you provide.

I am not a lawyer so use my suggestions only as a starting point for additional research. I have read up on a lot of this stuff for my own purposes. I just recently filed for a trademark registration for my gift/souvenir products.


That’s a good point. And one I knew. Not sure why I didn’t think of it!
So now I need to do some digging…

I didn’t know that. Good info. Thanks!

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The more we know, the more we forget:


Might be useful w/r/t the copyrightable elements of a board game


Stay away from :japanese_ogre:

Thanks. Looks like some good info there, too!