Quinn threatened and taken down by Tetris Company's attorneys

MarkJ
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Post: #1
It appears that a law firm representing the Tetris Company has contacted the author of the popular OS X tetris clone, Quinn, and demanded he stop distributing it. I know they have a history of harassing small-time developers, but this seems kind of ridiculous.

They claim to hold copyrights on the gameplay mechanics of Tetris-- which is odd because as I understand it, you can't copyright a concept or process. From their threat:

Quote:...the copyrighted features of the Tetris® game include, wihout limitation, downward, lateral and rotating movements of the differently oriented four-brick playing pieces, as well as the shape and appearance of the four-brick playing pieces, including the configuration of the four-brick combinations comprising the playing pieces.

The configurations of the playing pieces are simply the seven different types of tetrominoes.

The letter goes on to list more claims, and demands Quinn be taken off the web.

What do you guys think of all this?
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Luminary
Posts: 5,143
Joined: 2002.04
Post: #2
I was under the impression that only the name Tetris (and similar, such as the suffix ~tris) were problematic... but IANAL Smile

If they are correct, and do hold the rights to these, then it sucks, but is kinda inevitable.

If not (as seems more likely to me), then I think it's appalling that they'd try to bully someone in this way.

Wikipedia says:

Quote:but courts have not decided on the legality of tetromino games that do not use the Tetris name.

and

Quote:According to circulars available from the United States Library of Congress, a game cannot be copyrighted (only patented), which would invalidate much of TTC's copyright claim on the game,[3] leaving the trademark on Tetris as TTC's most significant claim on any government-granted monopoly.
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Member
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Post: #3
I think what the Tetris company is doing is a waste of time and resources. Why make a game and then spend the rest of your time threatening other developers to not use similar concepts? It is like suing a car company for producing a 'car' that has a steering wheel... wheels... seats... airbags, etc. I would think that other video game designers would be more for promoting the development of video games / new developers, rather than trying to stomp out of 'sparks' (new game developers) before they can become a fire (competition).

Well, that's my opinion... though in this world, opinions seem to mean very little. Rasp It's all about who's making the money and who's not. *sigh*

~Achi
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Member
Posts: 353
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Post: #4
Legally they would need to have a patent on the gameplay to enforce this kind of action. Unfortunately for any small time developer it would still cost money, time, resources and extreme stress to actually get to that conclusion in court so the big boys are able to get away with these kinds of stand over tactics.

It's justice for the rich, that's how the world is.
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Member
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Post: #5
You can't copyright gameplay features. This has been proven consistently in courts (see all the Pac-Man lawsuits in the early 80s). You *can* patent some aspects of games. For instance, you can't have a mini-game during a loading screen, as someone has patented that. To my knowledge there are no Tetris patents (and any such patent would likely be overruled, if you had the money to fight it).

As long as a game doesn't use a Tetris-sounding name (like Blocktris or Tetroid or whatever), doesn't sell itself as a Tetris-clone, and doesn't use Tetris art and sound assets it's 100% legal. Their lawyers can say whatever the hell they want, but if you had the money and time to fight them, you'd win.

Quote:as well as the shape and appearance of the four-brick playing pieces, including the configuration of the four-brick combinations comprising the playing pieces.

That's a truly ridiculous claim, as even the creator acknowledges that he based Tetris on pentominoes.
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Founder
Posts: 1,138
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Post: #6
Quote:I think what the Tetris company is doing is a waste of time and resources. Why make a game and then spend the rest of your time threatening other developers to not use similar concepts?
A bit like SCO. It keeps their business in business.

Carlos A. Camacho,
Founder
iDevGames
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Member
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Post: #7
sucks bad...

©h€ck øut µy stuƒƒ åt ragdollsoft.com
New game in development Rubber Ninjas - Mac Games Downloads
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Sage
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Post: #8
and grassgames tetris goes mysteriously missing from their homepage...

Sir, e^iπ + 1 = 0, hence God exists; reply!
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Sage
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Post: #9

Sir, e^iπ + 1 = 0, hence God exists; reply!
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Oldtimer
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Joined: 2002.09
Post: #10
Jesus christ on a bike!
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Moderator
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Post: #11
Yeah, that sucks. This happens every once in a while though. I remember several years back when the Asteroid guys sent out letters to all the Asteroid clones on the Mac and PC. Then they put out Asteroids again themselves. From what I've heard, there is a legal necessity that they demonstrate that they've made effort to protect their IP in order to retain it, but IANAL either. Clones have always been un-safe territory.
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⌘-R in Chief
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Post: #12
Having patents, copyrights, and trademarks OBLIGATES a company to fight all misuses of them by anyone - megacorporation or small developer. If you don't fight to protect them for so long, and then out of the blue you do, the defendant can show that they've failed to protect their patent/copyright/trademark and that why should the case stand up now in court when the holder has been so lax before now. The holders of the rights to Tetris are obligated to put out every small developer making clones so that megacorporation X can't come along and make a clone and say "Hey, well they did it, why can't we? You just want the money." Of course they can't shutdown every developer -- just the successful ones.

Tetris was and still is a ridiculously popular game completely invented by one guy. (Inspiration from pentominoes was "ooo... odd shapes that fit together." How that translates into "You can't patent a game that does that!" I don't know.) The guy (and now company) is perfectly welcome to protect Tetris in any way they have legal rights to. Anyway, apparently I'm alone in thinking that, so I'll just duck down to miss all the flying "debris" shall we say.
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Post: #13
FreakSoftware Wrote:Having patents, copyrights, and trademarks OBLIGATES a company to fight all misuses of them by anyone - megacorporation or small developer.
The point here is that copyright doesn't apply at all to the Tetris people's case, and ideally small developers should be OBLIGATED to fight abuse like this. Copyright is about the particular use of an expression or idea, not the expression or idea itself. There is no legal right here.....
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Post: #14
I wouldn't be so sure about that. Maybe statutory law doesn't specify that they have a legal right, but it might not specify that they don't either, in which case there may be a legal precedent through common law which they are pursuing. I personally hope someone fights this silliness. However, that Tetris may have been a derivative of or been inspired by something else (which is obviously debatable) doesn't change the fact that they have a viable (and widely identifiable) product franchise -- which they may actually be required by law to defend, by the way. We just don't know enough about it, except that it looks like a bunch of BS on the outside.
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Post: #15
More random thoughts... Serious cash streams like the Xbox 360 Arcade are opening up fresh avenues for old games like Frogger, Galaga and Gauntlet. There are also sources like the Atari Flashback(s) to consider, not to mention cell-phone and PDA gaming. These new retro gaming markets must certainly be driving these recent legal actions to protect various intellectual properties. What really sucks to think about is that the value of the games these guys want to protect now have been boosted in part by indie developers over the years. During all the years that these new revenue sources didn't even exist to keep them alive, indie developers were keeping the gameplay fresh and in the players' minds. They should come up with a creative and legal way of offering a little cash for helping out instead of threatening to sue everybody that gets in the way of their greed. I say that if they can afford lawyers who know how to write letters of doom, then they can just as well afford good business managers who know how to write checks of thanks! Pooh on Tetris!
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