Practical Applications of Advanced IP

I stumbled across an interesting but complicated set of intellectual property law interactions recently and wanted to use it as an illustration of how flexible licensing can be. Some of this involves a little speculation on my part, because not all the answers were apparent through available research methods.

In 1988, R. Talsorian games released a cyberpunk roleplaying game. The game included several player roles, including a Netrunner – a cybernetic computer hacker.

In 1996, Richard Garfield created and released a card game called Netrunner. Garfield was also the creator of the popular game Magic: The Gathering, and the game was published by Wizards of the Coast. The game drew off of cyberpunk properties, including William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and was licensed by R. Talsorian games to take “place in the third decade of the 21st century of R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk roleplaying game.” R. Talsorian owns a trademark for Netrunner, and has owned registered trademarks, though does not currently have any registered marks.

The Netrunner card game went out of print in 1999, but was critically acclaimed as very well designed, and had something of a following even years after it was no longer being published.

In 2008, Fantasy Flight games released Android, a board game in which players are investigators trying to solve a murder and unravel a conspiracy, in a dystopian future including cybernetics and androids.

In 2012, Fantasy Flight retooled and re-released the original Netrunner card game as part of its Android universe, calling the new game Android: Netrunner. Wizards of the Coast still owns the copyright to the original Netrunner game, and R. Talsorian games still owns the trademark, both of which are licensed to Fantasy Flight games so it can continue to expand and publish Android: Netrunner.

This disclaimer pops up on many webpages with Android: Netrunner content.

Netrunner is a TM of R. Talsorian Games, Inc. Android is TM & ©2015 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Netrunner is licensed by Wizards of the Coast LLC. ©2015 Wizards.

Hopefully this gives you a glimpse of how strong and enduring intellectual property protection can be, even after you think something is over.