"A Communiqué from the French Game Designers Union
This newsletter will be more specific than usual, dealing with the legal protection of boardgames. Regularly, by mail or in our facebook group, wannabe designers ask us « how not to have my idea stolen by a publisher ».
We won’t go into details about this topic here. Someday, the SAJ (Société des Auteurs de Jeux, the french game designers union) might publish a comprehensive text on this issue, but usually we mostly try to calm down the anguished designers. In France, since there’s no legal way to protect a game rule, the best way to ensure one’s paternity over it is to show it around to as many gamers as possible. Since the boardgames business is largely open and honest, any obvious plagiarist would soon be toast. Anyway, it almost never happens.
Well, it looks like we are witnessing one of the few exceptions to this long standing rule. A game publisher, Wonder Dice, is launching a preorder campaign for the game a young designer, François Bachelart, has shown them a few years ago. The publisher even proposed him a contract then, but they failed to find an agreement and it wasn’t signed. From what we know at the moment, it looks like the publisher simply « stole" the game from its designer, developing and publishing it without his agreement, without his name and of course without royalties.
The SAJ firmly disapproves of such practices, and gives all its support to François. Since legal actions would be expensive and their result unpredictable due to ambiguity of boardgames legal status, the only thing we can do is to inform designers and gamers of the bad dealings of Wonderdice, and hope they will deservedly fail.
We want to make clear that this sad story is only an exception. Relations between game designers and publishers are usually trustful. As a matter of fact, Edge, a major French distributor, has declined to sell the game. All the gamers and game designers who have heard of this story are already spreading the word about Wonderdice obvious dishonesty, and are of course restraining from ordering the game. The boardgames world reacts in the best possible way, and it’s not a surprise for us."
Source (non-partagée en public)