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Electronic Arts v. Zynga: Is it a clone? 0

Electronic Arts v. Zynga: Is it a clone?

Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in Computer Law, Copyright

Video game publisher Electronic Arts  (EA) has challenged video game creator Zynga in California Federal Court.  It appears that Electronic Arts suspects Zynga has been borrowing a few too many elements from its game, The Sims Social, and incorporated those elements into the Zynga game, The Ville.  From EA’s complaint it appears that various design elements of The Sims Social were copied directly into the Zynga game.  A few months ago it would have seemed that EA had an uphill battle on their hands but a recent case may have shifted the verdict in EA’s favor.  That recent case involved cloning the popular game Tetris (See Cloning Tetris).  It would be wholly unsurprising if EA’s recent action was spurred by the verdict of the Tetris case, firstly because of the many common elements with EA’s case against Zynga and the Tetris case and secondly and more importantly, the connection that EA has with the owner of the rights to Tetris.  It may be that EA’s actions against Zynga were started as a result of the Tetris case or it may be that the Tetris case was a result of some agreement that EA has with the owners of the rights to the Tetris game. The Tetris case and the...

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Cloning Video Games is Copyright Infringement: You Can’t Just Copy Tetris 0

Cloning Video Games is Copyright Infringement: You Can’t Just Copy Tetris

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 in Computer Law, Copyright

On May 30, 2012, a Federal District Court in New Jersey granted summary judgment to Tetris in an infringement case against Xio Interactive, Inc. for their iPhone game “Mino.” In Tetris Holding, LLC v. Xio Interactive, Inc., the judge ruled that Xio infringed upon Tetris’ copyright and trade dress. The decision is an important gain for game developers, who are often offered little protection against infringement by game studios who produce clones of popular games for profit. Many game developers have trouble protecting their intellectual property rights against companies who create clone games to cash in on successful designs. Clones copy the look, feel, and mechanics of a popular game for a profit, but, until recently, the original developers had trouble proving these clones crossed the line into copyright infringement. Often, developers like Xio successfully argued that they copied only functional elements of the game, such as the underlying rules or theme, and not that game’s particular expression of them. The New Jersey court ruled for Tetris, however, holding that Xio’s clone copied various parts of “Tetris” that may have been acceptable individually, but, taken together, constituted infringement. While the holding is well argued, the court may also have ruled for Tetris after Xio openly admitted to downloading Tetris’...

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