Foley and Larder attorney creates board game about drug patents

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Foley & Lardner LLP attorney Richard Warburg has developed a new intellectual board game that takes players through the process of developing a successful pharmaceutical drug, from idea to profit.
The game is named, "Patential: A Prescription for Success," and if Patential is a success, Warburg said his three-ring model for the game would bring many more of its kind, from teaching players how a movie is made to giving them a taste of the wine-making industry.
Patential is a lot like "Monopoly," "The Game of Life," or any other game in which the winner achieves the highest level of wealth. But instead of going to jail, having kids or investing in real estate, players in Patential are applying for patents, dodging lawsuits and buying generic drugs to make more profit. The first player to $1 billion wins, Warburg said.
Warburg is a partner in the intellectual property department for Milwaukee-based Foley & Larder’s Del Mar, Calif., office. He practices litigation, strategic counseling and patent prosecution for the intellectual property practice group and the food industry team.
Warburg, who is originally from England, holds a master’s degree in biomedical engineering and has practiced patent law for 14 years. Warburg has been a patent agent since 1985.
Warburg said he came up with the idea of an informational board game about patents and the cost of drugs while playing "Monopoly" with his son.
"As I was watching them, I began thinking how it would be nice to have a board game that teaches what I do in biotech and patent law and how it fits into the big picture," Warburg said. "Whether people know or don’t know why drugs are priced a certain way, they will find out from playing the game. It is important that people know the difference between a generic drug and an original drug."
Warburg sketched out a rough idea by breaking down the process of developing and selling a drug into three phases: the patent phase, the clinical trials and the revenue circle.
Warburg’s sister is involved in the production of children’s movies and helped him make the game easy for kids to understand and enjoy playing.
"The three-step design can explain any sort of career or complicated concept," Warburg said. "It is a great way to learn."
Players begin Patential by deciding whether they are going to develop a drug or sell generic drugs, and if they will have capital funding or funding from donations. Players receive $2 million and then draw licensed drug cards, Warburg said.
The drug cards are for diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer and infectious diseases, Warburg said. The price of the drug depends on the level the player chooses. A level one drug is the cheapest and a level three drug is the most expensive, just like in real life, Warburg said.
Once the drugs are purchased, the game begins. Players must pay to license the drug, go through a clinical phase and apply for a patent before the drug even goes on the market, Warburg said.
Patential is very realistic, Warburg said, except that if a drug fails in real-life, the companies could have to start over and re-engineer the drug. In Patential, players are told to move back a level. The money involved is realistic in the first part of the game, Warburg said, but because there is no timeline on the game, as the drug becomes more popular it would be worth much more than $1 billion.
Patential is as challenging and educational as players want it to be, Warburg said.
"It is just a game, but the patent side of it is very informational," Warburg said. "On the way to winning, players deal with patent interferences, which only happen in the U.S., and patent re-exams, which are happening more and more in the U.S."
Warburg provided a glossary of terms for those unfamiliar with patent law and the buying, distributing and selling versions of drugs. Depending on how much the players know ahead of time, the game can be played on many different levels, Warburg said.
"The game can be quite strategic," Warburg said. "Players have control over what is going on but at the same time they have no control at all. Business deals come into play, including forced deals. And if a generic drug is introduced it will ruin the original drug’s revenue stream."
The race to the $1 billion would be fun for children. Teenagers and adults would have fun learning the drug development process, why generic drugs are in existence and why drugs cost so much from playing at a low level as well, Warburg said. However, backdoor deals, trades and takeovers can occur when players such as professors, lawyers and law students, who know the basics, engage in a game, Warburg said.
FRV Group, LLC, Neenah, manufactures Patential, and Nuffer, Smith, Tucker, Inc., San Diego, Calif., designed the board and pieces. The game is currently available exclusively from the Web site at for $34.95, Warburg said.
"Right now, I am going to keep Patential for sale on the Web site. There are big companies that sell board games by making 300,000 copies, and the only reason people buy them is because they see them sitting on the shelves," Warburg said. "I want people to buy Patential because it will interest them and they will be able to identify with it. I want to target people who will be able to benefit from it."
November 26, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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