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Has my game interface been copied?

04-19-2009, 09:41 AM
#1
Has my game interface been copied?

Guys, pardon if you have already seen this in another forum, but I wanted to get as many opinions as I could. I am the developer of the game TanZen, which is a tangram game with a zen garden theme. My game has been on the App Store for nine months. Here is a screenshot of my game:



Now, I've had a competitor on the App Store for the last few months. They make a game called Tangram Puzzle Pro. The visual interfaces are not similar, except for the fact that he borrowed my use of a selection ring to rotate the shapes. I'm fine with that, as other games use rings to rotate/manipulate game objects. However, checking their website today, they are now selling a PC game, called Tangram Puzzle Pro: Secret Garden. They have a playable demo, and here is a screenshot:



They're using a sand motif, and green pieces, which is very similar to my motif. Now, I don't know if that is grounds for copyright infringement/intellectual property issues, but what I do know is the way they've presented the pieces is entirely based on my design. I spent a couple days coming up with that layout, so it would fit perfectly on the limited iPhone screen, and all they've done is flip it.

I feel they are now violating the rights of my game. But before I send them a friendly email to modify their game, I wanted to get some opinions from fellow developers. So your opinions on this would be very much appreciated. Thanks!
04-19-2009, 09:57 AM
#2
Joined: Nov 2008
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It's obviously copied. But how would you play tangrams on a PC? But anyway, the design is very blatant, and I would definately email them.

04-19-2009, 10:01 AM
#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by brewstermax View Post
It's obviously copied. But how would you play tangrams on a PC? But anyway, the design is very blatant, and I would definately email them.
Thanks for your response, brewstermax. To play on a PC, you have to click and drag, and it has the same rotation wheel they have in the iPhone version (wonder where they got that idea from ), so it's another click and drag.
04-19-2009, 10:09 AM
#4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little White Bear Studios View Post
Thanks for your response, brewstermax. To play on a PC, you have to click and drag, and it has the same rotation wheel they have in the iPhone version (wonder where they got that idea from ), so it's another click and drag.
Oh. Well, I would definately look into that. Especially since they are competing with you in the App Store, they had to have seen Tanzen. If they weren't in the App Store, it could be innocent, but there is no way all considered. Email them, and then contact an attorney about possible legal action.
04-19-2009, 10:11 AM
#5
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: United States of America
Posts: 2,210
That'd be like the person who organized them all in a rectangle to shutdown all the 100's of them that do the same thing. Question you have to ask yourself are customers being led to believe they are getting Tanzen from Little White Bear Stuido on the PC game or are they just getting a tanagram game like hundreds of others which I believe to be the case. Are they infringing up the name? I don't think so myself but friendly email never can hurt or so I've heard.
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04-19-2009, 10:14 AM
#6
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Virginia
Posts: 1,045
I'd contact a lawyer who specializes in Copyright law first, to make sure you have a strong case and can make sure you take appropriate actions.
04-19-2009, 10:25 AM
#7
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: Seattle, WA USA
Posts: 4,761
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little White Bear Studios View Post
But before I send them a friendly email to modify their game
Unless I am mistaken.. I believe LWBS just wants to know if he should sent that email.. not hire a lawyer.

Email couldn't hurt to see how they respond.. I did a quick check on google.. the zen garden theme and green pieces seems to be unique. Most are wood... not really sure anyone will think that game is the PC version of your game though.
04-19-2009, 10:32 AM
#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbass View Post
That'd be like the person who organized them all in a rectangle to shutdown all the 100's of them that do the same thing. Question you have to ask yourself are customers being led to believe they are getting Tanzen from Little White Bear Stuido on the PC game or are they just getting a tanagram game like hundreds of others which I believe to be the case. Are they infringing up the name? I don't think so myself but friendly email never can hurt or so I've heard.
The thing is, the rectangle is one of the traditional tangram shapes, which is why it is used so often. It is a complete puzzle, and nobody can own it. However, I believe the placement of the default pieces is unique, and is not something I've seen in any other tangram game (and I've seen a load of them during my initial designing of the game). Regardless, I think the overall presentation (default piece placement, sand garden theme, and green pieces) could be a case of trade dress. And leaving out the legal bits, this is quite clearly a swipe of my design concept. Both our game's reviews contain references to each other's products. It's impossible that this is an accident. They are trying to profit from the most identifiable features of my game.
04-19-2009, 10:46 AM
#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by HardcoreEricXXX View Post
I'd contact a lawyer who specializes in Copyright law first, to make sure you have a strong case and can make sure you take appropriate actions.
Well, it would be nice if things could be handled in a friendly manner, but I am certainly considering a legal solution.
04-19-2009, 10:48 AM
#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveMc99 View Post
Unless I am mistaken.. I believe LWBS just wants to know if he should sent that email.. not hire a lawyer.

Email couldn't hurt to see how they respond.. I did a quick check on google.. the zen garden theme and green pieces seems to be unique. Most are wood... not really sure anyone will think that game is the PC version of your game though.
Thanks DaveMc99. Yeah, TanZen has a very unique look among tangram games, or at least it did. As I said in a previous post, this may be a case of trade dress.