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Powerball lottery creator patents new games

PowerballPowerball: Powerball lottery creator patents new games

The co-creator of the Powerball lottery game has patented an international jackpot game and a new lotto game that could some day be played in the United States.

Edward Stanek is president of the Iowa Lottery and one of two men who came up with the Powerball game, which is now played in 27 states.

The Powerball game has generated about $17 billion in sales for lotteries nationwide over the past 14 years, but Edward Stanek has never cashed a dime in royalty checks.

Stanek chuckles when anybody asks him whether he has received any extra income for helping to create the popular Powerball game.

"The only thing I ever received is this walnut plaque," said Stanek, who keeps the award in his office in Des Moines. The Multi-State Lottery Association, which oversees Powerball in 27 states and two other jurisdictions, gave Stanek the plaque "in appreciation for work done on the development of the Powerball game."

Neither Stanek nor Steve Caputo, a former Oregon lottery official who helped to develop Powerball, ever patented the original game. Now Stanek is determined not to make the same mistake twice, although he said his concerns are to protect intellectual property rights rather than to obtain a personal financial reward.

United States patent records show Stanek was personally awarded a federal patent on May 3 for developing an international-type lotto jackpot game that allows for the accumulation of a "super prize pool." In addition, Stanek has a federal patent pending for a new generation of a lotto game under consideration by the Multi-State Lottery Association.

Although the new patent and the pending patent are both in Stanek's name, Stanek said any royalties or other financial benefits will become the property of Iowa Lottery or the Multi-State Lottery Association. The games were created largely on state government time, and Stanek said he won't ask for additional compensation.

"These are protections to make sure that somebody doesn't come in and clone these games and use them for their own benefit," Stanek said.

Mark Janis, a University of Iowa law professor who has written and lectured on patent issues, said it is typical for employees of large government organizations and businesses to be required as a condition of their employment to assign patent rights to their employer. The patent owner decides the terms of licensing, and how royalties are distributed, he said.

Stanek's name is on the new and pending patents because patent applications must be requested in the name of the inventor, even if a patent will be owned by a company or by a government agency, Janis said.

At Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona, a dispute over ownership of a new racing bet developed by track announcer Ken Miller led to his firing last year. The track claimed that it owned the bet because Miller was an employee, while Miller wanted to market the bet and obtain a small royalty. The issue was settled out of court, Miller has since been rehired as a track commentator, and both parties will get a share of royalties.

Stanek said his concern about obtaining the lotto patents is based upon what happened after he and Caputo jointly developed Powerball in 1992.

Powerball wasn't patented in the United States or any other countries and the game was copied by an Australian lottery that uses the identical Powerball name. In addition, variations of Powerball are offered elsewhere in the United States and England. Powerball is played by drawing five white balls out of a drum of 53 balls and one red ball out of a second drum of 42 balls. The jackpot winner matches all six balls.

Stanek has headed the Iowa Lottery since it began in 1985, and he is the nation's senior chief lottery executive. After he decided against taking early retirement last year, he received an $81,000 pay raise, making his $207,000 annual salary one of the highest in Iowa government.

The fact that Stanek has never requested any royalties for his lottery inventions "shows the commitment that Ed Stanek has to the state of Iowa, and more specifically to the Iowa Lottery," said Tim Clausen, a Sioux City lawyer and Iowa Lottery Board member.

Iowa Senate Democratic Leader Michael Gronstal of Council Bluffs said the matter of whether a state employee should receive a royalty for an invention developed on state government time should probably be explored by state leaders.

"We ought to have a system that encourages state employees to be creative, but I think state government ought to get some benefit as well," Gronstal said.

At the University of Iowa and most other universities, there are policies to address patent activities, Janis said.

"In the unlikely event that I would invent something patentable, I would be obliged to assign rights in that to the university, and the policy explains how I would get some benefit," Janis said. "There is a very complicated formula that says if it is ever licensed, here is how the royalties would be divided up."

Stanek said the lotto game patented in May could be used internationally or domestically. His invention makes it possible to offer a lotto game in different time zones using different currencies, prices and prize structures.

There were plans being developed in recent years to establish a worldwide lottery encompassing 40 lotteries, but the idea was shelved amid international political tensions after the U.S. military intervention in Iraq in early 2003, said Stanek, who formerly was the head of an international lottery association.

Stanek also has a patent pending for what he describes as "the next generation of lotto game beyond Powerball." The game would allow a "barbelling" of prize structures, he said.

"This means it could create very large jackpots, but at the same time have very good odds of winning small prizes," he said. The game is under review by the Multi-State Lottery Association, and no decision has been made whether to proceed.

Des Moines Register, Lottery Post Staff

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14 comments. Last comment 9 years ago by CASH Only.
Page 1 of 1
Avatar
New Mexico
United States
Member #12305
March 10, 2005
2984 Posts
Offline
Posted: July 6, 2005, 9:26 am - IP Logged

Unusual looking man, Stanek.  Unusually piercing eyes, a smile that ain't a smile, beginnings of a hair-implant job, slight discoloration under the eyes, a proud set of ears laid back flat against his head, and a collar that's just a shade tight around the neck.

Nice plaque.

Jack

 

    Avatar
    Atlanta, GA
    United States
    Member #1265
    March 13, 2003
    3326 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: July 6, 2005, 11:29 am - IP Logged

    To me he looks once bitten twice shy ... not gonna happen again.  Thumbs Up

    Hope the game succeeds and dominates!!  Party

    Also hope somehow it will be available for direct purchase online!!

    Good luck to everyone!


      United States
      Member #379
      June 5, 2002
      11296 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: July 6, 2005, 11:37 am - IP Logged

      What does "barbelling" (of prize structures) mean?

        Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
        Chief Bottle Washer
        New Jersey
        United States
        Member #1
        May 31, 2000
        21436 Posts
        Online
        Posted: July 6, 2005, 11:43 am - IP Logged

        What does "barbelling" (of prize structures) mean?

        The next sentence says:

        "This means it could create very large jackpots, but at the same time have very good odds of winning small prizes," he said.

         

        Check the State Lottery Report Card
        What grade did your lottery earn?

         

        Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
        Help eliminate computerized drawings!


          United States
          Member #379
          June 5, 2002
          11296 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: July 6, 2005, 11:49 am - IP Logged

          Mega Millions and Powerball already do that.

            RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
            mid-Ohio
            United States
            Member #9
            March 24, 2001
            17730 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: July 6, 2005, 12:04 pm - IP Logged

            I wonder if anyone owns the patents, royalty and intellectual property rights for the 6/49 lottery format which is used all over the world and which courts would respect their claims.

            * you don't need more tickets * 
            * just the right ticket * 
               Wink 

              Avatar

              United States
              Member #1826
              July 11, 2003
              2645 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: July 6, 2005, 12:47 pm - IP Logged

              I looked up the patents he applied for. The first is for what we know as "The Blue Game", as in the player picks only one number from the second pool, while the lottery picks two or more. That's the first patent. The second patent also includes the game aforementioned, plus an interesting pari-mutuel prize system. A reserve fund is taken out, and it's used to increase the the lower prize levels in a state or country that has sold a jackpot winner. For example, if Pennsylvania sells a jackpot winner, all the players in Pennsylvania also get larger prizes in the other prize levels.

              (insert signature here)

                Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                Chief Bottle Washer
                New Jersey
                United States
                Member #1
                May 31, 2000
                21436 Posts
                Online
                Posted: July 6, 2005, 2:14 pm - IP Logged

                JS9,

                With all your new game ideas, why don't you pick one or two and apply for some patents?

                 

                Check the State Lottery Report Card
                What grade did your lottery earn?

                 

                Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                  LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
                  Tennessee
                  United States
                  Member #7853
                  October 15, 2004
                  11334 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: July 7, 2005, 4:55 pm - IP Logged

                  JS9,

                  With all your new game ideas, why don't you pick one or two and apply for some patents?

                  i agree,JS9 you come up with some great ideas.some of them could easily be considered for some state lottery....

                    weshar75's avatar - Lottery-042.jpg
                    Mcminnville, Oregon
                    United States
                    Member #3013
                    December 13, 2003
                    2306 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: July 7, 2005, 8:54 pm - IP Logged

                    I hope the name of the new game is not "the blue game" they need something better than that to sell tickets.


                      United States
                      Member #379
                      June 5, 2002
                      11296 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: July 9, 2005, 10:38 am - IP Logged

                      It won't be.

                        LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
                        Tennessee
                        United States
                        Member #7853
                        October 15, 2004
                        11334 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: July 16, 2005, 5:07 am - IP Logged

                        I hope the name of the new game is not "the blue game" they need something better than that to sell tickets.

                        me too,that would be a stupid name...

                          LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
                          Tennessee
                          United States
                          Member #7853
                          October 15, 2004
                          11334 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: July 30, 2005, 2:36 am - IP Logged

                          it might be superball?


                            United States
                            Member #379
                            June 5, 2002
                            11296 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: August 5, 2005, 10:22 am - IP Logged

                            I like Superball. I hope CT would sell it.