Board Game Community Stunned Over ‘Meeple’ Trademark Dispute

Photo of author

In a surprising twist for board gamers everywhere, the term “meeple” is now embroiled in a trademark controversy in the United States. The dispute arose when Hans Im Glück, the publisher behind the renowned game Carcassonne, issued a cease-and-desist order against Meeple Inc., prompting them to rebrand as Tabletop Inc. and relocate their headquarters to Portugal.

The controversy escalated when Corey Thompson and Marian McBrine, advocates within the board game community, announced they were filing for a U.S. trademark for the word “meeple.” This move aims to safeguard the term from what they describe as “predatory actions” by Hans Im Glück. The term meeple, which originated in 2000 during a game of Carcassonne, has since become a beloved and ubiquitous part of the board gaming lexicon, referring to the small wooden figures used in many board games, especially popular worker placement titles.

The community has expressed outrage and disbelief over Hans Im Glück’s actions, fearing that this could set a precedent for other common terms in the industry, especially considering the term was not actually coined by the game’s publisher or marketed as such in Carcassone. Meeple Inc, which raised an impressive $230,000 in their Gamefound campaign so far, might now have to spend those funds on rebranding efforts and legal defenses, instead of finishing the game. Hans Im Glück has defended their actions, stating that it is crucial to enforce the trademark and protect their intellectual property.

As the situation develops, it remains to be seen how the trademark filing will proceed and what impact it will have on the board game community. The outcome of the trademark filing could have far-reaching implications, potentially influencing how common terms are treated in the context of intellectual property rights. We’ll be watching closely to see how the situation unfolds.