Artwork on your game board, playing cards and packaging is automatically protected worldwide by copyright. Copyright is free and need not be "registered".
However, to enforce copyright, you need to prove "copying". If your competitor merely "redeveloped" similar artwork without "copying" yours, you will have no action against the competitor under copyright law. This is why board game manufacturers register designs ‐ design registrations cover all "copies", irrespective whether developed independently or not.
Copyright does not prevent someone who understands how your game works from writing a set of "rules" based on his understanding. As long as he does not "copy‐paste" your written rules, his set of rules may lawfully be reproduced and used.
Also, copyright generally does not protect brand names or 3D products made using an industrial process (such as playing pieces and figurines).
Tip: Add the following to your playing cards and game board:
© [Name of owner], [year]
Depending on the country, copyright typically lasts for between 50 and 95 years.
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