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Spry Fox files Federal copyright case against 6Waves Lolapps

Mon 30 Jan 2012 8:08am GMT / 3:08am EST / 12:08am PST
Development

UPDATE: 6Waves Lolapps responds, denying all wrong doing

6waves Lolapps media

With over 40 million active users per month, Lolapps has the largest network of social games and applications...

lolapps.com

Update

6Waves Lolapps has responded to the court case, in a statement given to Venturebeat.

"Lolapps is disappointed that David Edery has chosen to file a lawsuit, and believes his claims are factually inaccurate," reads the claim.

"We respect others' IP and did nothing to violate any contracts our team had in place. The copyright infringement claims are unjustified."

Original story

Triple Town developer Spry Fox is taking its complaints about 6Waves Lolapps' very similar title Yeti Town to court, filing charges of copyright infringement with a US Federal judge.

In doing so, Spry Fox boss David Edery has revealed that the international publisher was at one point in talks to publish Spry Fox's Triple Town on Facebook - a period when it had access to the game's closed beta and much of the sensitive and private information regarding the game's business and monetisation strategies.

"In general, we believe that only in the most extreme circumstances should a video game developer resort to legal action in order to defend their creative works - the last thing our industry needs is frivolous lawsuits," said Edery in a post on Spry Fox's website.

"Unfortunately, it is our opinion that 6waves has behaved in a reprehensible and illegal manner, and we can not, in good conscience, ignore it."

6Waves Lolapps published Yeti Town on iOS last December, where press and public began to note the similarities between it and Triple Town - which was at that point only available via Facebook.

When Playdom was announced as the Triple Town's Facebook publisher, and Spry Fox ported the game to iOS, 6Waves Lolappps' Arjun Sethi and Makie Tardiff defended their game's similarities in an interview with Gamasutra.

"There are a lot of other match-three games out there that are similar, and I think that being criticized like that is just part of a natural process," said Sethi.

But with the revelation that 6Waves Lolapps had so much privileged access to Triple Town's mechanics and business model, alongside the remarkable similarities between the games' UI's, pricing and even tutorial text, that claim seems hard to support.

"What most people don't know is that 6waves was in confidential (under NDA) negotiations with us to publish Triple Town at the exact same time that they were actively copying Triple Town," continues Edery in his blog post.

"We gave 6waves private access to Triple Town when it was still in closed beta, months before the public was exposed to the game. We believed those negotiations were ongoing, and we continued to give private information to 6waves, until 6waves' Executive Director of Business Development sent us a message via Facebook on the day Yeti Town was published in which he suddenly broke off negotiations and apologized for the nasty situation.

Elsewhere in the post, Edery makes it very clear that the decision to go to court was not taken lightly, pointing out that this is a last resort in what he sees as a shameful act of copyright infringement and IP theft.

"It's bad enough to rip off another company. To do so while you are pumping them for private information (first, our game design ideas, and later, after the game was launched on Facebook, our private revenue and retention numbers) is profoundly unethical by any measure.

"Despite all this, Danc and I still struggled with the idea of initiating a lawsuit. However, 6waves brought the issue to a head when, rather than openly and honestly discuss their actions, they had the chutzpah to tell Gamasutra that they had developed Yeti Town completely independently, and characterized the legitimate public criticism of their company as simply 'part of the natural process' of game development.

"We believe that there is nothing 'natural' or ethical or legal about 6waves behavior. What they did was wrong. And if they get away with it, it will simply encourage more publishers to prey on independent game developers like us. We refuse to sit back and let that happen."

The full legal filing for the case can be read elsewhere on Edery's private site.

2 Comments

Dan Griliopoulos
Journalism

41 0 0.0
It's about time someone took issue with this assumption that a game can be plagiarized willy-nilly. It's no good for the consumer and no good for a creative industry to be relying on this rip-off model - it makes us unduly centralised and unadventurous.

That said, it's a pity that they had to resort to legal methods, as it sets a precedent for larger companies to start bullying smaller ones with their already-paid-for, have-to-be-used legal departments. It's also a pity it's likely that the vast majority of the case will be about a breach of NDA and not about copyright-infringement. My only hope is that this case puts other developers from plagiarism in the first place.

Posted:2 years ago

#1
If find very interesting the wording of Lolapps that decided to name David specifically instead of the company actually filing suits.
Makes it sound very personal.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

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