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Ripped off games!?!

07-22-2009, 08:12 AM
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 14
Ripped off games!?!

Ok, I'm very confused by all the 100% ripped off games floating on the app store. I'm wondering what rights the original game developers have, if any.

I won't mention names, but as an example there is an app out there that is an exact copy of Chuzzle by Pop-Cap games. The only difference is the graphics.

Thoughts from other people? Is the developer of this game taking a risk or are they safe from legal action?

I'd be interested in hearing the other sides of the story too, as it does seem to be a grey area.
07-22-2009, 08:55 AM
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 122
This is a problem I feel a lot of people just sort of ignore or pretend doesn't exist. It's interesting though that you say "The only difference is the graphics", because the graphics are one of the only things that a developer can really copyright. (You can trademark a name, too.) My very limited understanding is that you can also get a patent that (theoretically) protects your game. But getting a patent is tricky, you have to be specific about what you're patenting, or it won't uphold in court, but if you're too specific, someone can always say "this part is different, so your patent doesn't apply."

What's interesting is that Apple has basically taken a hands-off approach, and said you need to protect your own properties. So all those versions of tetris get approved, and are in the app store for a couple of days until the Tetris Holding Company sends them a letter (or their lawyer does) and the game developer takes the game down. (It may be that Tetris sends a letter to Apple too, and apple takes it down until things are resolved. I'm not sure.)

I just read recently about a clone of the flash (and PS3) game Flow that made it into the app store. I guess it wasn't there for very long before there was an uproar. Ars technica article here. I'm sure there are many many other examples of this sort of thing, although that story is pretty interesting. (I wish I'd heard about it before it was taken down. I'd have loved to check it out, in the same way I love finding those tetris clones, although I don't usually pay for them.)

My games: ActionChess, Oppo-Citrus & Catchup
blog: http://chesstris.com/ twitter: livingtech GameCenter: grid
07-22-2009, 10:59 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 395
I really wish I got that flOw game .
07-22-2009, 11:16 AM
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,438
my understanding is it's very hard to patent/protect a game concept.

Names are easily trademarked, and are the reason for the removal of apps with the various "Pong" names.
Graphics are also easily copyrighted, and so any game that rips off the exact images will result in easy legal action

Beyond that, there are many game clones so it's not something that is easily actionable.