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Old 02-08-2012, 12:22 AM   #6
Andrew Hackard
Munchkin Line Editor
 
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Default Some matters of Intellectual Property

Last update: 3/10/14

Steve Jackson Games takes its Intellectual Property rights very seriously. (This term covers things such as copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade dress. You can find a more detailed discussion in our Online Policy.) We are happy to have you share your love for Munchkin, but we have to look out for our IP rights in the process.

Please note that this is NOT a comprehensive answer. If you want something that will stand up in court, hire a lawyer and have them talk to our lawyers. (No, we aren't posting that contact information. A good lawyer can figure it out without any trouble.) As a general rule, if you're feeling uneasy about something you're thinking of doing, that's probably a good sign that you need to stop and think it through VERY carefully.

May I make a Web page about Munchkin? Certainly, as long as it follows the Online Policy. Most especially, please note that we CANNOT allow you to post any rule text, including card text, except in the specific context of a review or critical discussion of the game. We also cannot provide art for you to use on your page, other than what is already available on our site. And if your page looks too much like the pages on sjgames.com or worldofmunchkin.com, we may ask you to change your design.

May I post a picture of a custom Munchkin card I wrote? (Or that was written by John Kovalic, Steve Jackson, Wil Wheaton . . .) As a general rule, yes. However, if you're posting an entire set of cards, the waters get murky . . . and if you're also posting our rules or the set is based on someone else's intellectual property, then the answer turns into "No, and now we have to ask you to take the files down." We hate doing that, but we absolutely will (and have!) if it's necessary.

May I use the classic Munchkin character as an avatar? As this image is now a registered trademark of SJ Games, we respectfully ask that you not use it as your avatar for webforums and other services. This is also discussed in the Online Policy.

May I make a T-shirt/patch/baseball cap/other wearable item using the Munchkin logo (or Munchkin art)? I'm sorry, but the blanket answer to this question is "no." There is a somewhat more complete answer in the Online Policy which boils down to "Probably not, but we've allowed it in very special circumstances." Those circumstances DO NOT include asking forgiveness rather than permission -- ASK FIRST!

May I get a Munchkin tattoo? If so, what bonus would it give me? After some discussion, we have decided that awarding bonuses for Munchkin body art is not quite in the spirit of our promotional efforts, which usually require one to relinquish the promotional item in question to obtain the bonus, and so we won't start down that road.

That said, if you love Munchkin enough to ink yourself up with it, we have no strong objections. If it's a tasteful tattoo in a worksafe location, we might even link it from our Flickr stream. Might.

May I create a Munchkin game aid to post to my web page? It depends on what you intend to do. If it's something that does not use our copyrighted rules text (including text on cards), and in other ways follows our Online Policy (note especially the discussion of "trade dress"), then we're probably OK with it. If you want to submit it to SJ Games for us to potentially host, then you can have more latitude; just understand that the answer may be, "Sorry, no thanks."

If you're talking about an electronic game aid, such as a Javascript combat counter for a smartphone, then the answer has to be an unqualified "no, sorry." SJ Games owns a registered trademark on Munchkin for electronic game uses, and we are required to defend that trademark vigorously if we want to retain it, which we do. Unfortunately, this means that we have to ask app providers and web hosting companies to remove such programs from their services. We hate doing this. Please don't put us in that position.

I submitted a game aid for consideration a long time ago, and I haven't heard anything! If you followed the procedure in the Online Policy (see how I keep linking to it? That's a hint) and you haven't heard anything beyond the initial, "We'll take a look," then we're probably just really busy at the moment. Like we usually are. A polite nudge after the first month or so is not inappropriate, but past that, please just wait for it to bubble to the top of our list. If you never heard from us at all, it's possible our spam filter ate it, or else we were so busy we neglected that bit of courtesy; a quick poke after a week wouldn't be amiss. And thanks for understanding.

(2014 update to the above answer: Right now, no one in the office has evaluating fan-created game aids as a primary or even secondary job responsibility. Chances are very good that submitting it to us will lead to a long wait while we all do the other things. In particular, as we've taken on more licenses, both incoming and outgoing, that is eating up a LOT of time previously devoted to game aid eval. We are hoping to find a way to streamline the process, but it's just not at the top of our list right now.)
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Last edited by Andrew Hackard; 02-04-2015 at 10:45 PM. Reason: typo
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