Game of Life Dispute Finally Over

Milton Bradley/Hasbro’s famous “Game of Life” has entertained families for decades and given many kids their first look at the super fun responsibilities that await them on the big board.  But a new legal dispute about the copyright to the game spun the wheel in court recently to collect some presents. The action settles a beef that had pitted toy developer Reuben Klamer, TV celebrity Art Linkletter and Hasbro against Klamer’s former business partner Bill Markham.

Markham’s heirs were seeking to acquire the copyright that Klamer licensed to the Milton Bradley Co., which is now owned by Hasbro, in 1959. Judge William Smith flew to Los Angeles during a bench trial to take live testimony from Klamer, now 96, and two former employees of Markham who created the game prototype and its initial rules and box cover.

“Like the Game of Life itself, this fifty-nine-year tug-of-war for renown and royalties has followed a long, circuitous path,” Smith wrote. His conclusion is styled in Game of Life parlance as the parties’ “Day of Reckoning.” The result: Markham’s heirs cannot ascend to “millionaire acres.”

Smith found that Klamer and Markham contributed the big ideas, such as the game being played on a circuitous path with three-dimensional objects. Chambers, Israel and Markham’s wife, Sue, created the game’s physical prototype. The work was performed “at the instance and expense” of Klamer, Smith found.

“The Game, an instant classic, sold like crazy, and is still a source of revenue for Milton Bradley’s successor-in-interest Hasbro,” Smith wrote. “The ensuing ‘Pay Day!’ has sometimes been the cause of consternation, however.”

Like pegs, cards and multicolor fake money on the Life game board, disputes are EVERYWHERE!  And when those annoying things negatively impact you and your business including landlord/tenant matters, contract issues, nuisance ADA claims and even collections, call in your good guy business litigator, Dean Sperling to resolve YOUR matter with YOUR best interests in mind!  

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