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Constructed languages, like everything, is an intellectual property, and most countries worldwide do care about protecting the rights of the owners.

If I'm about to create a new conlang, should I consider any existing patents?

My common sense suggests me that something is obvious here:

  • entirely copying someone else's writing system would certainly constitute a copyright infringement;
  • lots of things are public domain, e.g. SVO/OVS clause order or the Latin alphabet;

…but I'm totally lost about the case if some aspect(s) of existing works can be incidentally copied or deliberately borrowed.

Where should I start here?

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If I'm about to create a new conlang, should I consider any existing patents?

No. It is conceivable that conlangs might be patentable under US law, but none so far have been.

entirely copying someone else's writing system would certainly constitute a copyright infringement;

Probably not. Again, it might infringe a patent, but there are very few patents on writing systems. Copying a specific font or typeface would constitute copyright infringement, but not copying the writing system in abstract.

Where should I start here?

I'd start by reviewing Sai's talk at LCC 6 on the legal status of conlangs, and the accompanying slides and legal memo.

You might also review the Language Creation Society's involvement in the Axanar case regarding whether or not Paramount "owns" Klingon.

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    Re fonts, one thing people usually don't realize is that it's not the visual design of the characters that's protected, but rather the code that implements a particular instantiation thereof. Which is why it's legal (albeit ethically questionable) to make a ripoff font by tracing over letters and re-doing the kerning instructions etc. – Sai Feb 6 '18 at 23:35

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