PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Game of Life is known for turning events into moves on a board. Now, it’s at the center of a different experience: a lawsuit.
A toy inventor’s widow said Hasbro and another inventor cut her out of $2 million in royalties and possibly more from one of the most popular board games. Lorraine Markham also said her husband, Bill, has been denied his legacy of creating the game after Reuben Klamer took full credit for it.
Markham is seeking a declaration from the U.S. District Court in Providence that her husband was the game’s sole creator and that the company he left her owns the game. The lawsuit, filed last month, also seeks a complete accounting from Hasbro on what is owed.
Klamer’s countersuit Thursday reads that he is the sole creator and Markham’s widow has no right to royalties.
Hasbro did not return emails seeking comment.
The game has sold more than 30 million copies. It was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2010. It has been spun off into a TV game show, an iPhone app and gambling ventures.
Markham’s lawsuit said her husband invented the game in 1959, which Klamer disputes. At that time, Klamer was president of Link Research, a company formed by TV personality Art Linkletter. Klamer offered to market The Game of Life to Milton Bradley, the lawsuit reads, and they struck a royalty deal, which gave Link and Markham a percentage of sales.
Klamer’s countersuit reads that he developed the game, then hired Markham to make the game board. He said he and Milton Bradley made changes to the design before selling it. He said the game has been revised repeatedly since, and Markham was not involved in that work.
In 2003, according to Markham’s lawsuit, Linkletter and Klamer’s company struck a deal with Hasbro to give the company an option to acquire TV rights to the game. Markham was never alerted and never received royalties from that agreement. Klamer denied wrongdoing.
Markham’s lawyer, Lou Solomon, said he has seen no evidence that Linkletter, who died in 2010, was complicit in any wrongdoing or was actively involved in the business.
U.S. District Judge William Smith on Thursday gave Hasbro until Dec. 18 to respond.