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This Month in Business History

The Game of Monopoly is Patented

Governor Earl Warren of California and four of his six children spend a pleasant evening at home with one of their favorite family games. Between 1940 and 1945 Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

On December 31, 1935, the now ubiquitous winner-take-all board game Monopoly was patented (Patent Number 2,026,082). Since that day, it has been translated into 37 languages and evolved into over 200 licensed and localized editions for 103 countries across the world. The game of capitalism, competition and business strategy has firmly established itself as a significant piece of popular culture.

Charles B. Darrow of Germantown, PA created the game known today during the Great Depression. In 1934, he presented the game to executives at Parker Brothers and was rejected. A year later, after he sold 5,000 homemade copies of the game, Parker Brothers bought the game.1

Some controversy has surrounded the invention of the game, whether it was created by Charles Darrow in 1934 or Elizabeth Phillips, who had patented Landlord's Game in 1904 (Patent Number 748,626; see also Patent Number 1,509,312) as means of educating citizens on Henry George's single tax movement.2 Parker Brothers bought the Landlord's Game rights from Phillips for $500 with an agreement to manufacture the game for distribution and thus was free to pursue development with the game known today as Charles Darrow's Monopoly.3

By 2010, over 250 million sets of Monopoly® had been sold since its invention and the game had been played by over half a billion people making it possibly the most popular board game in the world.4

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