Apple Dumps Another Game For Being 'Too Similar' To Tetris

from the but-not-illegally-so dept

You can almost understand the reasoning behind Apple pushing the creator of a Tetris-like game called "Tris" to remove his app from the App Store. There's a decent chance that the game doesn't violate The Tetris Company's IP, but the "Tris" name could conceivably run afoul of the trademark. However, it's difficult to understand the reasoning behind Apple taking down another game for being "too similar" to Tetris. The game, called Shaker, has some similarities to Tetris, but is quite clearly a different game -- and with a name like Shaker isn't going to run into any issues on the trademark front (thanks to reader J. Locke for pointing us to the story). It's unlikely that The Tetris Company has any actual legal claim here, so it's rather ridiculous that Apple is using its dictatorial authority to just remove it. Does that mean that anyone who creates a similar app to someone else's App Store app can ask Apple to remove all competitors?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Charles, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 4:56pm

    It probably means that whomever pays them the most will be king of that type of game.

     

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  2.  
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    Jeff, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 5:33pm

    I run a small software company with a few developers. We initially had plans to create iPhone apps, which would mean paying $100 to Apple, and also buying a Mac because the iPhone SDK only runs on MacOS X.

    However, with the way they deny and ban Apps left and right, for any reason, has forced me to not develop for the platform due to the risk of rejection. I would've been more than willing to spend thousands of dollars to get an iPhone, iBook, and a SDK license, as well as comment hundreds of hours of my development teams time in order to create products for the App store. However, seeing how many frivolous rejections Apple has made, theres no way I'm going to risk that much time, money, and effort on something that can arbitrarily be denied for stupid bullshit.

    So the end result is that all the app ideas we have will now be developed for the Android platform.

    If Apple was trying to scare developers away they've done a great job.

     

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  3.  
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    Roger, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 5:42pm

    No shock that this game was pulled. Even their own website claims "It is similar to a well-known classic puzzle game...."

     

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  4.  
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    Thanatos, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 7:10pm

    Mein Fuhrer sacks another. More motivation for my fellow brothers to jailbreak. Anyone interested in developing a "non $10 price gouging" tetris, or am i missing a much needed repo?

     

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  5.  
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    Michael, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 7:28pm

    so?

    I still don't get why people bother with this company at all... they throw roadblocks up in front of your usage of all their products constantly and THE PRODUCTS AREN'T VERY GOOD! I don't see why you don't just give Apple the one finger salute and go buy something else, it will be cheaper AND more useful. Personally I don't like ANY of the ipods, and their computers are a complete waste of time as I can't upgrade them myself and they don't run directX apps. I think the only reason they manage to exist is that the fanbois and hipsters buy em so they can look "cool" for their peers...

     

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  6.  
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    Tetrus, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:03pm

    It seems to me that you're not representing this fairly or these stories are not getting fully researched.

    For example, the linked article states that the owner of Tetris has complained. What isn't clear is if a DMCA takedown notice was issued to Apple by the Tetris owner, and it would be great if you guys in the media can find out.

    If so that completely changes the nature of these stories because DMCA filings would imply that the App Store may be under under Safe Harbor provisions, and Apple has to act on notices much like YouTube has to respond to similar crap on disputed videos.

    It would be nice to know what is really going on. Thanks.

     

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  7.  
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    Triatomic Tortoise, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:25pm

    Why Bother?

    I hate Apple. I do recognize that they make well polished looking products. But their business model ripping off their customers with price gouging sub-par and restrictive featured products is really bad.

     

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  8.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:35pm

    Re:

    No shock that this game was pulled. Even their own website claims "It is similar to a well-known classic puzzle game...."

    So? There is nothing illegal about creating a similar game.

     

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  9.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:37pm

    Re:


    If so that completely changes the nature of these stories because DMCA filings would imply that the App Store may be under under Safe Harbor provisions, and Apple has to act on notices much like YouTube has to respond to similar crap on disputed videos.


    Interesting possibility -- though, if true, the app developer should have been specifically notified that it was a DMCA takedown so he could file a reply. It would almost certainly be an abuse of the DMCA if this was a DMCA filing.

     

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  10.  
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    Yolo, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Re:

    I think the OP is correct. It almost has to be DMCA threats happening in some cases, and in this Tetris case it certainly sounds like the complaint started with the Tetris copyright owner casting the DMCA shadow over this product.

     

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  11.  
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    Hubcap, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 9:17pm

    Re: Re:

    This has exactly the same feel as what happened with the Scrabble game on Facebook. My bet is the DMCA threat has something to do with this.

     

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  12.  
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    woot woot, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 9:20pm

    Re: Why Bother?

    > price gouging sub-par and restrictive featured products


    Serious question: How so? Care to elaborate?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    DS, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 5:52am

    As Tetris is still a viable product, they would be fools not to aggressively try to protect their IP. I just don't get Techdirt sometimes. It's like they have on opinion, and no matter what the situation, they ALWAYS have to apply that opinion.

     

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  14.  
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    A Scary Moon Wound, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 5:57am

    Apple doesn't have DMCA safe harbor protection, because they review and approve each iPhone app, and have final say as to whether it makes it into the store (DMCA section 512.a.2). And, as has been previously pointed out here on Techdirt (in reference to the Dozier vs. Riley case), there are no safe harbor provisions for trademarks. Apple would be liable for any copyright or trademark infringing content in the App Store, so is it any wonder they pulled this at the first sign of trouble?

     

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  15.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 10th, 2008 @ 7:46am

    Re:

    As Tetris is still a viable product, they would be fools not to aggressively try to protect their IP

    But that's the thing. You make it sound as if just because someone makes a game, they automatically get a say over any similar game. That's simply untrue. It's not their IP, they're protecting against *competitors*.

    If you owned a pizza place, of course you would aggressively try to protect against any other pizza place opening. But you can't. Because we know competition is good and we encourage it.

    So why does Tetris get to shut down competitors?

    I just don't get Techdirt sometimes. It's like they have on opinion, and no matter what the situation, they ALWAYS have to apply that opinion

    Well, yes, we do apply our model to many situations, but that model is based on fact (as opposed to your claim that competition is somehow illegal).

    This game simply does not violate Tetris' IP. You claim they should protect their IP, but shutting down competitors goes beyond their IP. The only way this game violates Tetris IP is if it were an exact copy or used a name like Tetris. It did neither, and thus does not violate its IP.

     

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  16.  
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    Gort, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 8:46am

    Re:

    The DMCA would apply.

     

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  17.  
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    Kyle, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re:

    > This game simply does not violate Tetris' IP


    The problem is that this is your opinion, and is not a court opinion. Until a developer is willing to take Tetris to court and win, the situation will remain as it is.

     

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  18.  
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    anymouse, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 1:24pm

    This has gone to court... The Judge, Jury, and Executioner are APPLE

    This has effectively gone to 'court' in it's limited area of applicability. Apple feels that it infringes, and they are the judge and jury of the app store, so whatever they decide goes, and I doubt even an 'official' court ruling stating that Shaker doesn't violate Tetris's IP would have any effect on Apple putting it back in the store.

    You want to live in their world, you have to follow their rules, or you get the hell out (or never step foot in, as I have chosen to do).

    Heil Jobs, Heil Jobs, Heil Jobs....

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    DS, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 8:06pm

    Re: Re:

    There's a huge difference between a pizza and a software product. I cannot believe that you would even try to make a argument like that. A video game, that consists of falling blocks in set forms in a well-like tube, that clears the blocks when a full horizontal row is created, is the essential form that is Tetris. Before Tetris, I would be hard pressed to find an example of a Tetris-like experience. As they created the experience, it's up to them how much the would like to protect that experience. And, as it's still a viable product, and as they so desire, then yes, they should be able to protect their IP.

    "The only way this game violates Tetris IP is if it were an exact copy or used a name like Tetris. It did neither, and thus does not violate its IP."

    So, changing the name of something, and adding a drinks recipe makes it a different game? How about I start re-publishing Techdirt on my own website, change all of the words 'to', 'too', and 'two' to the number 2, remove everyone's name (repackage the content) and throw in some drinks recipes. Would your employer be after me for stealing your content? I would think so. If not, I hope you have a day job.

     

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