So I just ran in to Tom Bergeron in the lobby of my office building, and it got me thinking: how many game shows have patent protection? Game shows are games, which provide function (i.e., usefulness). Games have methods of game play. Ergo, game shows should be patentable, provided they meet the statutory requirements of novelty and nonobviousness (yes, there is also recent law–the Bilski case–that brings into question whether a game show is statutory subject matter, but a decent patent attorney (like me!) can draft claims that meet the Bilski requirements). So I ran a quick search of the patent office records and there are only 22 patents that use the word “game show” in either the title or the abstract of the patent, and they are (in reverse chronological order):

  1. 7,462,104:Method of conducting an interactive competition
  2. 7,440,919:System and method for a financial planning competition
  3. 7,244,180:Geography game show
  4. 7,201,653:Book of wishes game
  5. 7,171,487:Method and system for application specific packet forwarding
  6. 6,935,945:Internet game show in which visual clue is progressively exposed to contestants
  7. 6,845,980:Bingo-style word game
  8. 6,800,031:Method of conducting an interactive competition
  9. 6,616,143:System and method of conducting a lottery based game show
  10. 6,612,578:Bingo-style word game
  11. 6,439,997:Television/internet game show
  12. 6,340,159:”Double Cross.TM.” game show
  13. 6,193,610:Interactive television system and methodology
  14. 5,860,653:Method and apparatus for playing a word game
  15. 5,545,088:Television game interactively played by telephone with television-viewing home audience
  16. 5,518,253:Televised bingo game system
  17. 5,297,802:Televised bingo game system
  18. 5,213,337:System for communication using a broadcast audio signal
  19. 5,108,115:Interactive game show and method for achieving interactive communication therewith
  20. 5,088,739:Game having an environmental theme
  21. 5,035,422:Interactive game show and method for achieving interactive communication therewith
  22. 4,781,377:Hybrid sporting event and game show

I’ll add this to my list of things to do, i.e., review the patents in more detail to see which actually describe game play methods, versus which are directed to peripheral technical features, e.g., electronic game boards, etc.