Rather surprisingly, the Onion’s “Judge Rules Parker Brothers Holds Monopoly Monopoly” story is a fairly accurate reflection of the real game’s murky history. The game, designed by anticapitalist Lizzie Magie in 1904 (her patent is here) as a lecture on the evils of capitalism, was stolen by ‘official’ inventor Charles Darrow in 1935 and passed off as his own.
When Parker Brothers found out about the deception, they bought Ms Magie’s rights – and also bought out everyone else they could find who’d produced a Monopoly variant between 1904 and 1935. Since then, they’ve been trying hard to enforce their Monopoly monopoly through bluster and threats – but have always lost court cases against ‘infringing’ games.
Good news for the producers of highly amusing Thug Youth game Ghettopoly, that. (Is it racist? Only if you believe that all black people are pimps and playas, which strikes me as a moderately racist viewpoint in itself…)