I am a lover of classic games and I've developed some classical games such as:

  • Connect 4
  • Monopoly
  • Trivial
  • Battleship

My main question is what will happen if I publish any of these applications in the existing app stores such as Play Store or App Store for Android/iOS.

Can I create my own games and publish them? Or I will encounter legal problems because these games have been around for years and are protected by the creators.

Should I use an exclusive design or can I rely on the designs of the original games?

Nowadays, I can see most of these games are published by different developers than the original creator of the game.

  • 1
    "Could some one guide me in this matter?"- Yes, a lawyer. Nov 10, 2020 at 15:40

4 Answers 4


It depends on the game and what you copy.

Games are an utter nightmare when it comes to IP law as so many parts of them cannot be copyrighted. Game rules for example cannot be copyrighted, nor can the concept itself.

Some things can be copyrighted or trademarked. You cannot use the following:

  • Names
  • Written elements- while the rules themselves can't be copyrighted, rulebooks can
  • Artwork and other visual elements
  • Miniatures designed for the game
  • Original characters

Try to avoid these and the Hasbro lawyers should leave you alone.

  • The printed game rules that come with the game certainly are copyrighted, That doesn't stop you from a rewording that expresses the same concepts differently. Nov 10, 2020 at 22:05
  • I've heard gethopolly get sued
    – user4951
    Nov 11, 2020 at 1:35
  • @user4951 Due to being a derivative work that used copyrights and trademarks. The name Monopoly, and the character Mr Moneybags are both trademarked. There was also the defamation aspect- the game wa incredibly racist and reflected badly on Monopoly. Nov 11, 2020 at 12:21

Each game has a different profile of intellectual property including copyrights on text and images and trademarks. Some games may even have patent protection.


There are various possible protected elements in such games. Graphic images and the written text of rules may be protected by copyright, unless they are old enough that the copyright has expired, or the images are too simple to be protected.

If a sufficiently different set of images and text are used, copyright will not apply. The ideas of the game rule, and the game mechanics, are not protected by copyright, but the specific words describing those mechanics may be. A new set of rules would nee to be different enough not to be considered a derivative work to be free of copyright issues.Just how different that must be depends on the specific facts. When there is only one way of naturally expressing an idea, or only a small number of such ways, one of those may be used without a copyright violation.

The name of a game is often protected as a trademark. Unlike copyrights, trademarks do not expire as long as they are still in active use. To be free odf trademark protection, a new name would need to be sufficiently different that reasonable people would not be decieved into tthinking that it was associated with, or sponsored or endoirsed by, teh trademark owners ofd the origina. A prominent disclaimer can help avoid such confusion.

The "trade dress" of a product can also be protected under trademark law. This includes the distinctive colors and apparent of the package, and the styling of a name, such as a unique combination of font and colors. The cursive form of 'coca-cola" is an example of trade dress. The appearance of a game board or of game elements such as cards may also be trade dress, if it is distinctive. A new version would need to avoid similar trade dress to be free of trademark protection.

In some cases game design may be subject to patent protection. But patents expire in a much shorter tiem frame than copyrights do, on the order of 20 years. Games much older than that will not have active patent protections.

A new version of an old game that uses a wholly different name, a completely different logo and appearance, and rules written in significantly different terms will probably not be subject to any v valid IP claims, although a publisher might make such claims.


What happens? You get sued

These games are the intellectual property (both trademark and copyright) of their owners.

Now, what precisely is protected varies and the Scrabulous suit was settled after changes were made and (possibly) money changed hands.

Many of these games have elements that are old enough to be public domain and the rules themselves have no protection but in their commercial forms (their “trade dress”) and particularly their names have IP protection.

  • Unless, like Battleship, the game is in the public domain.
    – phoog
    Nov 10, 2020 at 14:16
  • 4
    @DaleM Your link refers to a lawsuit that was dropped. It also refers to a copy of Scrabble, yet Words with Friends exists. I'm not saying this answer is wrong but there is so much more nuance to it. Nov 10, 2020 at 15:39
  • 4
    Why have critical comments on this admin's post been deleted, and by whom?
    – bdb484
    Nov 11, 2020 at 3:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .