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I'm a copywriter with a flair in creating games for children.

I'm working for hire to create a board game in the lines of Monopoly without using any of their copyrighted terms like "Go to jail" etc. The format is the same with 9 steps on each side and four square zones for special situations. And some play money (or value-cards) for trading.

However, my client does want to use the "poly" in the name.

I have a game named Earth-o-poly on the environment. I wonder if they have had to go through the process of obtaining written permission or paying royalty of some sort.

What if my client created an XXXXpoly game and have a regular board game where players don't have play money but some kind of cards to hold on to and pay taxes or pay fines etc.

So, summing up, here are my questions:

  1. Is it a coypright infringement if the generic format is used and XXXXpoly is used?

  2. What if the format is hugely modified/changed but we only keep the "poly" suffix?

  3. Is it extremely expensive to negotiate and pay a fee to them to get the permission?

  4. Is there anything else I should keep in mind and didn't ask here?

Thanks, in advance, for your responses.

  • "my client does want to use the 'poly' in the name" - Why does your client want that? You can't do whatever your client wants. What if your client said 'I want it to be exactly like Monopoly and I don't want to pay any license fees." Just say no. – Brandin Jan 10 at 6:24
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  1. No, it’s not copyright infringement - it’s trademark violation. It seems that your intent is to associate your game with the game Monopoly which is a trademark of Parker Brothers. Notwithstanding intent, if your choice has that effect then Parker Brothers can (and probably will) sue and win.
  2. Ditto. If the game is clearly derived from Monopoly then that is also a copyright violation.
  3. Possibly prohibitively so.
  4. Yes.
  • Copyrights don't protect ideas. It's possible to come up with a game that plays like Monopoly but doesn't violate copyrights. – David Thornley Jan 9 at 21:57
  • @DavidThornley I agree, but that doesn’t sound like what the OP is doing. – Dale M Jan 9 at 22:18
  • Thanks for your response Dale M. Looks like it'll be better to just use a racing game kind of format instead. You responded "yes" to my #4. What is it that I should keep in mind? – Balaka B. Ghosal Jan 22 at 3:50

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