Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron


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As anticipated in previous posts, we continue feeding up a ‘leisure time for competition geeks’ section.

This post is about a board game, ‘Anti-Monopoly’, a different version of ‘Monopoly’ with an ‘anti-monopolistic’ theme.

In Anti-Monopoly®, players play either by or competition rules fixed at the beginning of the game:

COMPETITORS … charge fair rents, build as soon as they own a property, put five houses on their properties and occasionally go to Price War.

MONOPOLISTS… extort monopoly-high rents from their poor tenants, build only after they have monopolized a color grouping, restrict supply by putting only four houses on their properties and occasionally go to Prison.

The good guys are the small business entrepreneurs and the bad guys are the monopolists. Since players do not play by the same rules, fairness is achieved by a patented probability technique, has given each side equal chances to win.

OBJECT OF THE GAME: To be the richest competitor after all monopolists have been bankrupted or to be the richest monopolist after all competitors have been eliminated.

There is actually a great deal of controversy surrounding the creation of the game, which includes a 10 year long legal battle between the creator of Anti-Monopoly  (Ralph Anspach) and the owners of the ‘Monopoly’ trademark. After more than 37.000 copies of ‘Anti-Monopoly’ were destroyed pursuant to a District Court’s order which found a trademark infringement in the use of the word ‘Monopoly’, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 1979 that the trademark ‘Monopoly’ was generic and thus unenforceable. Nonetheless, this wasn’t the end of the story. Soon after the 9th Circuit’s decision, the US Congress amended the Trademark Act to protect longstanding marks against generic claims, thereby allowing Hasbro to assert again its rights to the mark ‘Monopoly’ and its variants.

A settlement was eventually reached and the game is now marketed under a license from Hasbro.

For more info on the game as well as on the underlying legal story, click here

Thanks to Anne Dostert for the pointer (and indirectly to Scott Hemphill, from Columbia, who apparently has a copy of the game in his office) .

(Image possibly subject to copyrights. Source here)

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

31 October 2009 at 7:44 am

One Response

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  1. […] jury sea monsters, that menace from below. On the other hand, the judicial expansion of IP at the expense of competition is not all bad.  Some of these judgely grants of broad swaths of semiotic territory to IP […]

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