Patents: Drink, Drive, Get Arrested–All from the Comfort of Home

police car

These games are more fun - and much safer - to play at home.

Melanie Ware must have been in a partying mood when she did the patent research below. She’ll tell you about it:

What party would be complete without board games? Each of the priceless treasures below is a patented board game, though I’m not so sure that Milton Bradley is beating down many of the patent holders’ doors to put these things on the market. Let’s get this party started!

1. Here’s a “Board game and method for teaching responsible drinking.” U.S. Patent 6,276,686, August 21, 2001, provides in part: “Another objective is to provide a board game that teaches responsible drinking to a plurality of players.” (That’s it, share the love. Nobody wants to drink alone.) “A further objective is to provide a board game that is easy to learn and fun to play.”

2. When the “responsible drinking” goes too far, here’s a “Board game simulating drunk driving.” U.S. Patent 4,216,966, August 12, 1980. The title speaks for itself, but here is a basic overview: “The invention relates to a game board apparatus which correlates consumption of liquor and the time span during which the liquor is consumed. The game board includes a pathway of connected playing locations upon which a player token is progressed …. Adjacent some of the playing locations are stop locations where liquor and time can be obtained. With the roll of dice, the player moves toward a happening such as the theater and enroute can be moved into a liquor establishment wherein liquor is consumed over a stated period of time all evidenced on a card drawn by the player. The amount of liquor consumed and the time of consumption in the various liquor establishments are recorded on a display board. Information from the display board is transferred to a blood alcohol chart which indicates sobriety or drunkenness. If a player is shown to be drunk, the sober player token head is changed to a token head indicating drunkenness and a police car is put into play by use of a second pair of dice.”

3. Since you’ve been driving drunk, it’s only natural that you might get busted, in which case you’ll need the “Double-Standard DWI-Rules Game.” U.S. Patent 6,412,77, July 2, 2002, describes “A game for a multitude of players based on driving rules applied according to a player’s social status.” (Apparently, the game educates us on who’s most likely to get out of a DWI.) “The object of the game disclosed herein, is to provide amusement for the players while they acquaint themselves with the financial liability incurred by being arrested for driving drunk. It is also is an object of the game is to provide amusement for the players while they acquaint themselves with the behind the scene manipulations resulting in special treatment for drunk-driving offenders according to their social status.”

4. Finally, you can wend your way through the criminal justice system playing a “Board game apparatus involving criminal justice,” U.S. Patent 3,977,680, August 31, 1976. “This invention relates to an educational game which simulates the criminal justice procedure, from the initial police encounter, through Attorney selection, arraignment, the posting of bond and the selection of an appropriate jury.”

Thanks to Melanie Ware. The full text of these patents can be found by plugging in their numbers at the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office website here.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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