Today's main Gamasutra article originated when the site's editors noticed a number of online sources such as Wikipedia stating that it was now completely legal to make NES 'clone' consoles, because all of Nintendo's patents regarding the NES had expired.
How true was this statement? We asked game IP lawyer S. Gregory Boyd the question: "Are the NES patents expired? If so, is a company free to build and sell new NES-like systems?", and are publishing his response.
Boyd explains of his own opinions on the matter:
"Law, particularly IP law, has a lot in common with quantum mechanics. In both fields, answers are often given in the form of probabilities rather than certainties. It is rare that a client can come in with a question and receive a “yes” or “no” answer. Answers almost always start off with “it depends” and end up talking about levels of risk and the practical interaction of business decision making with potential legal consequences. This short essay is a sample of one of those common and difficult questions."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, including plenty more analysis on the trademark, copyright, and international concerns related to replicating Nintendo's classic console (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).