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Intellectual Property Insights from Fishman Stewart
Volume 21, Issue 3

Football Squares: Patentable?

By Christopher W. Wen

With the NFL’s Super Bowl® just days away, we here at Fish Tank® press wanted to investigate from a patent perspective one of the most popular football fan activities: Football Squares.

For those who do not know, Football Squares is a pool in which a 10×10 grid is set up, where the rows and the columns are numbered from 0-10 (the order may be random). For a given football game being played, one football team is assigned the rows and the other is assigned the columns of the grid. Pool participants buy one or more squares in the grid. At the end of each quarter of the football game, the person who has the square corresponding with the intersection of the last digit of each team’s score wins.

But is such a widely played game patentable?

Patents were issued in 2018 (U.S. Patent No. 9,858,764) and 2020 (U.S. Patent No. 10,596,468) for an automated version of the squares game. As explained in both patents, “[t]he disclosed schemes incorporate technology for hosting on, or interacting/reacting with, potential participants’ mobile and personal communicating and computing devices.”  The claims of both patents generally are directed to “[a] system for implementing an automated live event related game” and “[a] method for implementing an automated live event related game”.

A “skill-based” variation (U.S. Publication No. 2019/0279467) was filed in 2018 in which skill is relied on in choosing which square to purchase, making it less of a game of chance. In particular, squares are assigned a value proportional with the desirability of the square. As explained in this application “[t]he desirability of these squares, and whether or not a player purchases these squares, may depend on their evaluation of the teams and players playing the match for which the game board represents. That is, using statistical analysis, the game becomes one of relative skill where players maximize their chances of winning by spending their point budget wisely.”  This application is currently pending.

Another application (U.S. Publication No. 2014/0274332) was filed in 2013 for a “versatile automated wagering system” that could be used with the squares game. This system sought to “manage risk while providing a wide range of wager options” and further “for such wagers to be centrally and collectively managed in an autonomous fashion to keep play exciting without losing control of expected loss exposure.” This application has been abandoned.

Other applications and patents exist that more generally apply to multiple kinds of gambling games, including Football Squares (e.g., US 8,734,231US 10,013,853US 2020/0066107).

So if you don’t win your pool this weekend, perhaps try your hand at obtaining a patent for your own variation of the game (or any other invention)!

Good luck from Fish Tank® press and enjoy the big game!

Counter Counterfeits

By Zachary Grant

Counterfeit products are incredibly harmful. For brands, counterfeits are a source of unjust competition, they create confusion in the marketplace, and they tarnish a brand’s reputation. Harm also extends to consumers; counterfeits waste money, sow distrust, and in many cases, they can be outright dangerous. While it is often the brands who bear the burden of taking down these ne’er-do-wells, there are simple steps consumers should be encouraged to take to ensure their own safety and financial well-being. Brand owners should encourage customers to pay attention to trademark and packaging details. They should also consider consumer-facing anti-counterfeit technologies, like holographic seals. Brand owners should also educate customers about the dangers of illegitimate alternatives. Consumer outreach combined with vigilance and enforcement can cut down on counterfeit availability and protect both brand and consumer.