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RISK on Google Maps Shut Down 312

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the making-my-stronghold-in-africa dept.
mrokkam writes "Hasbro owns the copyrights for the game of Risk, as the guy who wrote the google maps based Risk found out. This was featured on slashdot earlier. However, he does not seem too discouraged and asks people to submit ideas for other games using google maps that will not have such legal wrangles." One thing this reminded me of is how cool Risk is. My office is now in its 3rd round... Africa will be mine!
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RISK on Google Maps Shut Down

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  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @11:37AM (#14178337) Journal
    Where can I get a job in your office!
    • How about Where in the world is Carmen Sandiago? (Oh wait, that's copyrighted too)

      Maybe a game like geographical 20 questions or something. You have a list of questions that narrow things down to a city.
      • A "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego"-type Google Maps game was on Slashdot too.
      • Re:Another game (Score:4, Informative)

        by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@ ... a - h u dson.com> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:39PM (#14179811) Journal
        You can't copyright a game. Neither the name, nor the rules. Only the unique graphics and pieces.

        Here's what the US Copyright office has to say about it - and they should know http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html [copyright.gov]

        he idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or methods for playing it.

        Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author's expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in the development, merchandising, or playing of a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles.

        Some material prepared in connection with a game may be subject to copyright if it contains a sufficient amount of literary or pictorial expression. For example, the text matter describing the rules of the game, or the pictorial matter appearing on the gameboard or container, may be registrable.

        So make your Risk game, your Camen Sandiego game, yur Sim City game - you can even use the same name. All these attempted smack-downs by lawyers who should know better make me sick. No wonder Shakespeare said "first we kill all the lawyers."

        • Re:Another game (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bsartist (550317)
          So make your Risk game, your Camen Sandiego game, yur Sim City game - you can even use the same name.

          Actually, "Risk" is a trademark, so he couldn't use that name. That's what got him in trouble - if he'd called it by any other name, and made sure to use his own description of the rules and mechanics, and his own artwork, he wouldn't be in trouble right now.

          All these attempted smack-downs by lawyers who should know better make me sick.

          Lawyers in general make me sick... but they didn't really have
          • Re:Another game (Score:4, Informative)

            by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@ ... a - h u dson.com> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:32PM (#14180174) Journal
            http://www.gcglaw.com/resources/tech/windows.html [gcglaw.com]
            The Ninth Circuit's dismissal of the appeal means that Microsoft will not be able to argue at trial that consumers today recognize "Windows" to be a valid brand of operating system proprietary to Microsoft.

            The litigation over the Windows trademark highlights a distinction between valid trademarks that become generic over time -- "escalator" for moving stairs is a frequently-cited example -- and words or phrases that were generic from the moment of their adoption by the purported trademark owner -- for example, "raisin bran" for breakfast cereal made from raisins and bran.

            Risk was in the english a LONG time before Hasbro stuck it on a game. Anyone may use it in conjuction with a game, same as anyone may make a raisin bran cereal. and call it raisin bram. Kelloggs Raisin Bran vs Post Raisin Bran. Hasbro Risk vs Your Risk.

            Trademarks are subject to dilution. Hasbro isn't in connection with a game company. That's their business name. Risk is - its not their name, its the name of a product, and as such, enjoys a LOT less protection. The Reg had an interesting article on how trademarks get diluted. In this case, Risk isn't even a trademarkable word - its a generic english term. Same with Windows. Remember how Microsoft backed down and paid Lindows $20 million to go away when the issue looked like it was going to go before a judge?

            http://www.gigalaw.com/articles/2002-all/isenberg- 2002-04-all.html [gigalaw.com]

            The current dispute, which Microsoft brought against Lindows.com, already has backfired against the software giant. In March, a federal district judge in Seattle denied Microsoft's request for a preliminary injunction preventing Lindows.com from using its trademark, which Microsoft said violated its own rights to the Windows trademark. In doing so, the judge said the case raised "serious questions" about the validity of the Windows trademark.

            Here's why: An elementary principle of trademark law says that generic terms cannot be protected. So, for example, no company could obtain trademark rights to the word "computer" to describe what we all know as a computer. As the judge in the ongoing Lindows case explained: "when a trademark's primary significance is to describe the type of product rather than the producer or source, the mark is a generic term." Generic terms can be used by anyone.

            Here's another way of looking at it: If you can't think of any other term to describe a product, that term probably is generic. So, ask yourself this question: What term could the maker of a windows-based user interface (such as Lindows.com) use, other than "windows," to describe its product? If you can't think of one, then windows just might be generic.

            As a result, if "Windows" is generic for graphical user interfaces, then Microsoft cannot prevent anyone else from using that mark -- or a similar mark, such as "Lindows."

            Hasbro better not roll the dice on this one - the defenders dies are all 6s to their snake-eyes

    • Re:First Question! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SilentChris (452960) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:36PM (#14179800) Homepage
      I actually briefly interned for the law firm that Hasbro uses. One guy had his office filled with toys (Mr. Potato Head and the like). In one corner was a framed check (lawyers often keep fake ones for memorabilia) of a $100,000 victory over some company.

      Anyway, this was back in the day when the internet was still taking off. I was working on this guy's computer and, seeing I knew about them, he asked me "Are there any games online that are similar to what Hasbro makes?" Without thinking, I mentioned Download.com and all its shareware.

      A couple of days later, I see him walking by with a huge stack of printouts -- screenshots of webpages. They were every little piece of shareware he could find that bared the faintest resemblance to a Hasbro title. He mentioned, "That was a great site you told me about." and walked off. A couple of months later I saw a number of those games disappear forever.

      To this day, I'm kicking myself over telling him about it. Moral of the story: unless they're defending you, don't ever talk to a lawyer, even in passing.
  • Remember the tron lightcycles? It wouldn't have to be realtime like the original, maybe just turn based with the goal of trapping your opponents in.
  • Copyrights (Score:5, Interesting)

    by qbwiz (87077) * <john&baumanfamily,com> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @11:39AM (#14178346) Homepage
    I'm curious what Hasbro actually owns the copyrights on. They own the trademark on the name of the game, as the article says, and they own the copyright on the original game's rules, but do they own a copyright on any rephrasings of those rules?

    If the game looks similar and plays the same, but does not have its rules phrased the same as the original game, is this a violation of copyright? I'm genuinely curious.
    • by SirSlud (67381) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @11:57AM (#14178392) Homepage
      What is important is that copyrights and trademarks be respected, otherwise there is no incentive to create boardgames that furthur human knowledge, culture, and society.

      Imagine if we didn't have copyright law. Imagine a world without poker, bridge, snakes and ladders, blackjack, [insert one million fucking games better than risk, even tho risk does rule, here.]

      I agree with copyright laws with limited term. I agree, even, with moderate trademark laws. I do not agree with anybody who suggests that the value of these laws to society at large increases with the magnitude of the legal strength they grant the owner.
      • by bonkedproducer (715249) <paul@noSPAM.paulcouture.com> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:26PM (#14178511) Homepage Journal
        Speaking of copyright and whatnot - your sig should actually credit the late great Mitch Hedberg.
      • What is important is that copyrights and trademarks be respected, otherwise there is no incentive to create boardgames that furthur human knowledge, culture, and society.

        Please back this statement up with both argument and conclusion based on reason and empirical evidence supported by scientific methods and statistics. I'm a bit skeptical.

      • And with Hasbro's copyrights and trademarks on the Risk franchise, we are assured to always have official versions of Star Risk, Lord of The Risk, Risk Kong, Chronicles of Riskia, Spider-Risk, and of course, Harry Risker and the Riskerors Risk.
      • Re:Copyrights (Score:3, Interesting)

        by teknomage1 (854522)
        I appreciate your humorous post, but I hope people remember that most of those games ere all created before copyright existed anyway. I was teaching at a summer camp recently and the kids were amazed that copyrights on things used to expire.
    • Great idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StringBlade (557322)
      We'll call it "Imperil" and it'll take place on Pangea with toops of dinosaurs and other pre-historic species of animals trying to take over the world before it breaks apart.
      • Damn dyslexia my.
      • You can use the Risk name and rules - they are specifically not copyrightable. The lawyer was talking out of his ass.

        Here's what the copyright office has to say about it: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html [copyright.gov]

        The idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or methods for playing it.

        Hasbro's lawyers need to learn to respect copyright law.

        BTW: I've already emailed the dude in the article.

        If you read the email Hasbro sent h

    • Re:Copyrights (Score:5, Insightful)

      by codegen (103601) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:12PM (#14178443) Journal
      If the game looks similar and plays the same, but does not have its rules phrased the same as the original game, is this a violation of copyright? I'm genuinely curious

      Two words:
      derivative work.

      Changing the name and changing the rules might be enough.I haven't seen the online version. But if you change the way results are calculated (instead of rolls of 6 sided dice) and change the resupply algorithm, it might be sufficient

      • You would probably have to introduce a lot of novel ideas into it, too. Courts aren't hapy when defendants come in with a laundry list of things that they obviously did just to circumvent the copyright while keeping the basic content.
      • Two words: derivative work.

        Three words: idea-expression dichotomy [wikipedia.org]. The rules of RISK, including the graph theoretic structure of the game board, make up a process, which is deliberately not subject to copyright (17 USC 102). If you express the same rules differently, then your work is not a copy and not a derivative.

    • Re:Copyrights (Score:4, Informative)

      by Yartrebo (690383) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:18PM (#14178468)
      IANAL, but ...

      The copyright claim is probably a stretch. The title cannot be copyrighted, and merely formulating rules that are similar is not copyright infringement, though it is close enough for a lawsuit to stand on.

      However, in these types of instances, trademarks cast a very wide net because of the anti-dilution clauses that were added to trademark law a few decades back. Judges often interpret the clause extremely broadly. The anti-consumer aspects of trademarks get their teeth from this, whereas the aspects of trademarks needed for a well functionin market, namely that one entity cannot pass off goods are being made by another, was very well handled by the older trademark laws.
      • Re:Copyrights (Score:3, Informative)

        by bigpat (158134)
        I don't think anyone could argue against hasbro's use of the trademark. He just can't call it risk. Although, just doing a simple trademark search comes up with thousands of other trademarks that incorporate the word "risk", so hasbro's trademark would be very limited in scope.

        Really if the game is fun and well done, then it should stand on its own without needing to infringe on the trademark. And the rules need only be rewritten, if in fact they were taken word for word from the original. It might be g
    • Re:Copyrights (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EvilFrog (559066) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @01:15PM (#14178763)
      Here's the trick:

      You can not copyright the rules to a game.

      You can copyright the expression of the game— the artwork and the way the manual is written.

      You can trademark the name of the game.

      And most importantly you can patent a unique mechanic of a game.

      I'm 99.9% certain the Hasbro does not own a patent on any of the mechanics used in Risk. They do however own the copyright on the board artwork and the wording of the rules, as well as a trademark on the name "Risk".

      All you need to do in order to be legit in this case is to stop calling it "Risk".
      • ...They do however own the copyright on the board artwork...

        Out of curiosity, can you even have a copyright on a map of the world?

      • Let's assume he can create a Risk-like game that doesn't techincally violate copyrights or trademarks. Hasbro might still decide to "enforce" their IP by suing the guy. After all, they have millions of dollars to spend on lawyers and the Google Maps Risk creator probably doesn't.

        Yes, maybe it's a specious lawsuit that no ethical lawyer should bring. Yes, the little guy might be able to counterclaim for the frivlolous lawsuit and recover attorney's fees plus damages. But that would require him to subject him
      • so.... (Score:3, Funny)

        by coolcold (805170)
        its a risk to call the game risk?
      • Re:Copyrights (Score:3, Informative)

        You can not copyright the rules to a game.

        Sure you can, just like you can copyright any other passage of text. It's just that the copyright only applies to your specific text and not to the meaning of the text.
    • Of course it is. They've copied the game, like copying a story it doesn't have to be word-for-word.
    • Well, you can trademark the name of a game. You can patent the rules of a game (if they qualify for a patent; many will not be novel or nonobvious enough). And you can copyright a specific expression of the rules (provided it doesn't protect the underlying rules or other expressions of the rules), the art on the box, the art on the board (to the extent it's not functional for game playing purposes), the shape of the pieces (ditto), etc.

      So looking similar may or may not be a stumbling block, but generally yo
    • Re:Copyrights (Score:5, Informative)

      by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@ ... a - h u dson.com> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @01:36PM (#14178890) Journal
      Ther is nothing in Title 17 that allows for copyrighting game rules.

      You can't copyright the the actual rules of a game, only the documents you use to express those rules. IOW, you can copyright the form in which you've written them up, but that's it. Anyone is free to implement the same rules, using different text.

      You can TRADEMARK a board design and the actual game pieces you make, but that's it. Again, anyone else is free to implement their version, using a different design and game pieces. I seriously doubt that Hasbro's version of Risk has an actual map of the world underneath (I have both the board and computer versions, and the world they show is NOT the real world,or even a decent representation of it).

      In other words, Hasbro needs to to realize that the internet gives everyone the power to search here [cornell.edu] and get the facts.

      If you'd rather read a summary about game law, direct from the government, go here [copyright.gov] instead.

      The idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or methods for playing it.

      Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author's expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in the development, merchandising, or playing of a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles.

      Some material prepared in connection with a game may be subject to copyright if it contains a sufficient amount of literary or pictorial expression. For example, the text matter describing the rules of the game, or the pictorial matter appearing on the gameboard or container, may be registrable.

      In order to register the copyrightable portions of a game, you must send the Library of Congress, Copyright Office, 101 Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. 20559-6000, the following elements in the same envelope or package:

      So Hasbro can go fuck themselves. The guy should sue, as this was an obvious attempt at intimidation. They do NOT own the exclusive rights to RISK-style board games.

    • They own the trademark on the name of the game...

      Well that's easy enough: Just rename it to something like JNR, which would stand for "JNR's Not Risk!"

      Or maybe GRNR: "Google Risk's Not Risk!"

    • Re:Copyrights (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomhudson (43916)
      No, they don't own the trademark on the name of the game - nobody can. You're free to create your own game and call it risk: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html [copyright.gov]

      The idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or methods for playing it.

      So Hasbro just fucked themselves - hard - because now a million nerds know they can make their own Risk game, even call it Risk, and there's nothing Hasbro can do about it.

      Ditto with Monopol

      • Of course you can trademark the name of a game. The link you gave is talking about THE GAME ITSELF. The rules of the game can not be protected, although a specific expression of those rules can be.

        They clearly have a valid trademark in the name "Risk", when applied to a game.

        I offer the name "Backstab" as an alternate name for a Risk-like game, as long as use of said name is not made exclusive. I leave it as an exercise to write down the rules of the game in a non-infringing manner (and would suggest u

  • by mridley (571519) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @11:41AM (#14178355) Homepage
    I never saw the original game web site, so I'm not sure exactly what it looked like. But as long as you don't use the name RISK and you don't copy, word for word, their rules out of the physical cardboard box that the game comes in (ie. don't infringe their copyright), then I don't see why you couldn't put this back online.

    After all, what was that game - Tradewars? - that was exactly like RISK but I don't think anyone ever made an issue out of it.

    -m

    • Agreed.. Just change the name to "Nerdworld Takeover" and everyone will be happy. Except, Hasbro won't be happy because they don't own the copyright for every possible variation of Risk and the way it can be played.
    • by yeremein (678037) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:01PM (#14178405)
      The Hasbro bark letter [ashotoforangejuice.com] seems to complain that "unauthorized use of [elements of R*SK] is likely to dilute the distinctive quality of the R*SK game" (can't be too careful here). It seems to me that Hasbro would like to imply that they own the m*n*p*ly (is that a Hasbro trademark too?) on all R*SK-like games, but all that's legally enforceable is the R*SK name and actual written rules. I agree that a R*SK-like strategy game that didn't actually use the name "R*SK" or copy its rule book verbatim (and I don't know whether the offending game did that) should be legally okay. After all, there haven't been any lawsuits in the video game industry, where every single FPS that ever existed is exactly the same as every other one other than the name...
      • by Svartalf (2997) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:22PM (#14178501) Homepage
        ...one of Trademarks. While I'm not a lawyer, I am rather familiar with the various "IP" laws, being an inventor and an author of SF. Since the online Risk game used the name, the guy who wrote the Google Maps version had a problem with that part specifically- and Hasbro DID have a right to ask him to stop calling it that. The other claims of the elements of Risk are bogus since these are NOT really trademarkable, only Copyrightable. Since Copyright only covers the SPECIFIC implementation of an idea, they really didn't have a leg to stand on as this was a game, played on the Web that used Google Maps to render portions of the screens- NOT a board game like Risk is. The MAIN reason why the guy pulled it was one of not having the funds to put up a defense against the rest of the complaints Hasbro fobbed off on him. And, that's the biggest complaint I've got about how the "IP" laws are worded- the rich are the only ones that can actually use it or defend against spurious uses thereof. If you're a rights holder, you only have as much protection for your "IP" as you have cash to burn defending your rights. If you're not and aren't really infringing on things, you only have as much defense against unreasonable claims as you've got cash to burn defending your rights.
      • BTW, yes, Hasbro owns Monopoly [hasbro.com] as well.

        But this brings up the eternal question. When do things like this loose copyright and/or trademark?

        We have checkers, chess, card games like poker, hearts, spades, bunches of solitaire games. In fact, Hasbro [hasbro.com] sells checkers as well.

        How long do we have to pay "da man" to play games? I can't find too much history about RISK right now, but it appears to have been a French game that had its rules slightly modified and was being sold by Hasbro since 1959. That will be 50
        • Trademark (the only thing of relevance here, unless he was copying the words of the rules of the game, instead of using his own words to express the rules) lasts forever, as long as it continues to be used and defended.

      • Seems a shame that some middle-manager ran to the lawyers and got them to dash-off this letter (in the event that the lawyers weren't just operating on auto-pilot). I mean, when was the last time that anyone here actually bought a RISK board game? Hell, I don't even remember the rules.

        If they had been smart (and yes, I know that's a stretch for "suits"), they would've just asked him to link some advertising back to the Hasbro site, and maybe said "ya, it's a violation, but we'll let you run it for another
        • Risk is still available, and is still popular. There's even a PlayStation version. I haven't checked to see if you have to play it all in one sitting, or if you can save the current board position, or if the game is saved on the server so it can be played among various people over a multiple-day period.

          There was a version of RISK on PLATO in the 80's. Allowed 2-7 players per game, multiple games, settable time period. Due to concerns over trademark, it was renamed to "backstab".

      • > After all, there haven't been any lawsuits in the video game industry, where every single FPS that ever existed is exactly the same as every other one other than the name...

        But there have been lawsuits

        Crazy Taxi v. Simpsons Road Rage

        http://www.out-law.com/page-4155 [out-law.com]

        There's even a Law/Business workshop based on it

        http://www.cmpevents.com/GD06/a.asp?option=C&V=11& SessID=1555 [cmpevents.com]
        • But there have been lawsuits


          I hadn't heard about that one, but I guess I shouldn't have been so naive.

          For what it's worth, though, that's a "patent" "infringement" case, and any patent over R!$K would have expired decades ago, so Ha$bro wouldn't have been able to use it against gmrisk.
    • by DrunkenTerror (561616) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:05PM (#14178419) Homepage Journal
      Global War, a BBS door game.

      It's still around. You can download it here [johndaileysoftware.com]. You'll need a BBS to run it any way other than hotseat multiplayer. Or you could log onto any one of hundreds of BBSs [synchro.net] that could be running it.
  • Litigious bastards (Score:4, Interesting)

    by plams (744927) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @11:48AM (#14178362) Homepage
    Hasbro has a long history of suing amateurs who make games based on their games. I think they own a lot of classic arcade games too (e.g. from acquiring atari), so when someone makes, say, a Missile Command clone they also issue legal threats. Makes my inner baby cry.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:42PM (#14178589)
      yup, they tried a long time ago to stop a bunch of us that were publishing alternative rules to Risk. I.E. you hat to own risk and then add in our rules that were 100% origional to enhance the game. They sent letters we flipped them the bird by publishing all of the rules and giving out thousands upon thousands of copies at College campuses.

      today I can find many of our add-on rules modified slightly and on the internet (mutually assured destruction Risk with nukes, and Alien attack Risk with having the green be aliens that are trying to take over the world... required 2 sets of risk pieces to give the aliens overwhelming forces, and the only way to win was to contain the alien beachhead from the very beginning.)

      Their lawyers told me and the around 15 scattered friends around the globe that we were not to distribute the rules and we were to destroy them. WE did the opposite, instead of selling the 5 photocopied sheets for $0.50US we gave them to everyone everywhere.

      The only answer is to do what they do not expect and go against their demands, that is the only way to deal with the scum that are lawyers.
  • by dancingmad (128588) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @11:53AM (#14178379)
    One thing this reminded me of is how cool Risk is. My office is now in its 3rd round... Africa will be mine!

    Jerry: "A game of world domination played by two people who can barely run their own lives!"

    I kid, I kid!
  • I don't see the issue here. What could be copyrighted? The name (lets ignore that you can't copyright a name!)? Just change the name, call it World Domination, or Bush's Dream or something else. That will get past the trademark issue, which is a bigger problem than copyright. Obviously don't copy the printed rules for Risk, that might be a copyright infringement. He clearly isn't using the Risk copyrighted map. And it certainly isn't a patent issue, the game has well past any patent age (in fact, if it's be
  • Idea! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    asks people to submit ideas for other games using google maps that will not have such legal wrangles

    Um... turn the Google Maps upside-down and call it "Ksir"?

    "The game of conquest in weird superman's world!"
  • Couldn't there be a way to make a FreeRisk.org in the same way there is a FreeCiv.org [freeciv.org]? And thus, bypass legal limitations?

    Civ IV can even use NASA Blue Marble tiles [slashgisrs.org], I don't see why a FreeRisk or not-so-free Risk couldn't make use of NASA's Blue Marble data. It would be more beautiful than a Google Map basemap. Am I wrong?

    Clearly, this is another example where IP impeds innovation...
    • Yes, without this great evil, we would have an avalanche of innovative "taking someone else's idea and product and sticking it on the internet" innovation! I mean, it's not like IP law helps companies, inventors, and the economy (by making useful research/production profitable, by protecting ideas and by precluding problematic price wars with new products, respectively)!

      But gosh darn it, we want this thing, and THE MAN is telling us that we can't have it unless we pay him money! That's unamerican!
      • we would have an avalanche of innovative "taking someone else's idea and product and sticking it on the internet" innovation!

        He he he... not exactly what I had in mind ;-)
        But the thing is: IP really is a limitation because you are prohibited to try new mixes: in this example, mixing Internet, a game and a webmapping service/data. If there wasn't any Hasbro IP, in the end, the potential for innovation would be greater. In other words, I disagree with you :-)
      • In case you haven't noticed, RISK is hardly a new thing. I think Hasbro has had the past... I don't know, 50 years, to make money off this idea. I can see them being rightfully mad if someone distributed a similar board game and sold it in stores, but this situation is just excessive.
  • I bet the trademark infringement was by far the worst part of it. Maybe some sound legal advise can get this thing going again.

    Anyway, how scary must it be to receive one of these letters? I can imagine losing my stool after some company writes me a letter like that

  • Um, what office, Taco? From what I saw in "Revolution O/S," you lie around on a couch...
  • by thpdg (519053) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:13PM (#14178450) Journal
    Monopoly.
  • One has to wonder (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fahrvergnuugen (700293) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:16PM (#14178456) Homepage
    how has Lux [sillysoft.com] escaped the wrath of hasbro?
  • Variations (Score:3, Informative)

    by plopez (54068) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:18PM (#14178470) Journal
    There is a variation called 'space 2440' or something like that which won a court case against Hasbro IIRC.

    The map was different, the rules slightly as well. In addition to continents you had space and ocean colonies and more sophisticated pieces + rules. I found it more intersting than plain "Risk".

    The name "Risk" itself is a generic term and as such, from what I understand of copyright law, cannot be copyrighted.

    If he were to change the rules and call it 'Risk ' then he should be OK. Though Hasbro may win de facto if the game author doesn't have the resources or will to deal with lawyers.
    • With a trademark on the name using the name RISK, you might cause confusion... picking a totally different name gets' you out of the trademark issue (unless you call it something that would cause confusion (same/similar name and the same or similar product).

      Thus Lexis and Lexsus (the database and the car company) DO NOT infringe because no one (reasonable) would think they are buying database access and ooopps find out they bought a car instead...

    • The name "Risk" itself is a generic term and as such, from what I understand of copyright law, cannot be copyrighted. If he were to change the rules and call it 'Risk ' then he should be OK. Though Hasbro may win de facto if the game author doesn't have the resources or will to deal with lawyers.

      The name "Risk" is trademarked. This gives hasbro the exclusive rights to market a game with the name "Risk". This means that any substantially similar product (probably any game-like product at all fits the defin

  • by squoozer (730327) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:19PM (#14178483)

    ... for why copyright terms should be dramatically cut. Far from increasing the productivity of gifted artists the current copyright laws seem to cause them to give up work after they have had one success. I'm not saying that artists shouldn't be compensated but 20 years, to me, feels like about the right amount of time to protect the work. It's long enough that no business will just wait 20 years for the copyright on a work to expire before publishing and it's not so short that the artists would struggle to reap their just rewards.

    I remember playing Risk as a kid and it wasn't a new game then (my parents bought the set). How can it be right that it is still protected by copyright?. If copyrights were shorter Hasbro would no doubt have pumped money into developing new more exciting games.

    Having said that I suppose there is no problem with producing a very similar game with a different name to get around the copyright problem. I suppose we should be thankful they didn't patent it :o). The parting thought is this though - there is a reason they call them board games and it's not because they are played on a board.

    • It isn't copyright, it is trademark. It isn't patent, because the patent would have expired by now. Terms of copyright should be shorter, but that isn't the issue here. The issue here is trademark, and Hasbro has a valid objection to calling a game "RISK".

  • Another company owns my childhood culture.

    I've seen risk boards at least 30-40 years old.

    How long will THIS copywrite hold up.
    • It's a Trademark issue and they're claiming Trademark on the entire game including gameplay (which is what was in the cease and desist letter...). However, they can only Trademark (and I'd love to check and see if they've GOT the registrations on all of that up-to-date (because if they don't- I'm advising the guy go get a lawyer and sue the hell out of Hasbro for harassment...)) and they can only trademark something along the lines of the look and feel of the game pieces at best. "Risk" is a very common w
      • Upon a proper search of the USPTO database of Registered Trademarks, "Risk" for the board and computer game variants IS registered for Hasbro. However, there is no registration for the look/feel of the game pieces, etc. so that falls pretty clearly into the Copyright domain. Now, since the Web Risk[TM] game that used Google Maps to render the globe's details didn't really USE anything other than the game mechanics, doesn't specifically copy the verbiage from the game's rulesheet, and didn't appear to do
  • Does anyone know where you can play Risk online without Java/Flash/Plugins and without overzealous advertising?
    • There are a couple of free Risk-type games, both of which run on Linux and both of which support computer AI and network play:

      TEG [sourceforge.net] is a clone of an Argentinian clone of Risk. The basic idea is the same, but there are some differences: 1) After winning a battle, you can move at MOST 3 armies instead of at LEAST 3. 2) Defender also uses 3 dice. 3) You do not take a person's cards when you wipe them out. 3) You get the extra 2 armies from a card when you DRAW the card, not when you play it (which takes out
      • Teg is the one I currently use against the computer, but the network play never worked (the server list is always empty, even after pressing the "Update" button).

        The basic idea is the same, but there are some differences

        Actually, the rules 1) and 4) are the same as I knew them from the (German) "hardware" game.

        The combination of #1 and #4 means that you can not just take out a whole continent in one turn, even with hundreds of armies.

        Well, with luck you can. Example: Attack Egypt, move 3 in. Attack Madagasc
  • There are a ton of alternate maps, including world maps and maps of middle earth. Just cut the countries differently and you're good to go.
  • If Hasbro was smart they'd create a marketing division just for this guy's work and contact him about setting up a new element to the game with licensing.

    But no.. They can't completely control this type of endeavor anymore so it's all or nothing.

  • Is it the lawyers that companies keep on staff, actively trying to make themselves seem "useful," or is there really some bonehead at the company in a position of power who really believes that this is in Hasbro's best interests?

    The settings for board games and online games are typically completely different, with very little overlap. You don't (typically) sit around at home and play a board game by yourself. Likewise, Hasbro doesn't even have a net capable product to offer. At worst, this would have gen
  • Hasbro should suck a fat cock... RISK is what, like 50 years old? Give it up already. I can see that you might be angry if a similar commercial product was to be released, but from what I can tell, this was a noncommerical venture. I made a RISK board of my own for a school project recently... are they gonna come and sue me? Copyright should definitely run out for RISK soon.
  • Diplomacy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sysrpl (740738)
    Ever heard of the game Diplomacy [wikipedia.org]?
  • For a long while I was playing Global War [globalwar.de] like every day. But sadly, I eventually found that the legally necessary modifications to the Risk rules just kind of ruined the game for me. It would almost always end up in a never-ending battle between the last 2 or 3 people, that got really boring really fast.

    Does anyone remember the "Global War" BBS game, by the way? Now that was fun. ASCII Risk!
  • copyright on rules (Score:2, Informative)

    by pruss (246395)
    IANAL. But here's what I found by a quick googling:

    "Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author's expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in the development, merchandising, or playing of a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles.

    "Some material prepared in connection with a game
  • Lux? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by karnifex (724937)
    How do shareware games like Lux (sillysoft.net) get away with selling a game directly based on Risk, and this guy - who isn't making a dime - gets shut down?
  • It seems to me that Hasbro cannot stop a game that uses Google maps to track military movements around the world.

    The mistake that this guy made was to blatantly refer to RISK and to base his rules on that game. Risk was published a LONG time ago (more than 20 years) so I don't see how they could own any kind of patent on the game process but they must defend their trademark or risk losing it.

    If I were this guy I would create a game with my own rules that used Google maps. Hasbro certainly does not have th
  • by dr.Flake (601029) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @07:04PM (#14180693)
    So, one can't trademark /copyright the word "RISK", but the poor chap can't "risk" it.

    But if we open source it, on a server deeply burried in China...

    Make some really poor chap over there sys-admin, with no known adres/phonenumber

    Call it "ZIMOR" (Zimor Is NOt Risk ) or something GNU like that....

    Should keep the lawyers busy for a while.
  • TEG (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tycho (11893) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @08:55PM (#14181250)
    Personally, I like TEG better than Risk anyway. I think that TEG is better because it has some small tweaks that make the rules more balanced rules than Risk. I also like how the default world map is divided and connected in TEG as compared to how the map is divided and connected in Risk. Best of all a free client and server for TEG is available at http://teg.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

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