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There is 'substantial similarity' between Triple Town and Yeti Town - U.S. court

There is 'substantial similarity' between  Triple Town  and  Yeti Town  - U.S. court
September 24, 2012 | By Mike Rose

September 24, 2012 | By Mike Rose
More: Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing

Spry Fox, developer of Triple Town, filed a lawsuit against casual game studio 6Waves Lolapps earlier this year, alleging that the company copied its flagship game when it released Yeti Town. Now it appears that a U.S. court may rule in favor of Spry Fox.

The Triple Town studio previously alleged that Yeti Town is a "blatant copy of Triple Town," with game mechanics, tutorial language, UI elements and the prices of store items all very similar to Spry Fox's game.

6Waves Lolapps filed a motion to dismiss the case shortly after the complaint was made. However, a court has now denied 6Waves' dismissal, stating that "Spry Fox has plausibly identified enough copying to state a claim for relief."

"No one would deny the many similarities between Triple Town and Yeti Town," reads the filing. "Those similarities pervade the games, from their underlying concepts to their rules to the visual appearance of their characters and backgrounds."

The filing notes that there are also plenty of differences between the two games, and that "the question in this case is not whether the games are similar (they certainly are), but whether that similarity amounts to an infringement of Spry Fox's copyright in Triple Town or an infringement of Triple Town's trademark or trade dress."

yeti town.jpgThe court says it is important to note that "Spry Fox's copyright gives it no monopoly over this idea. 6Waves (or anyone else) is free to create a video game based on the same idea."

The elements of Triple Town that are functional, rather than expressive, are not protectable, says the court, and even those elements which are potentially expressive, such as the size of the grid, are only given "thin protection."

However, it adds, "Spry Fox's allegations are more than adequate to illustrate plausibly the objectively similar expression embodied in Yeti Town." The games' object hierarchies, for example, are very similarly implemented, while the setting and theme are very similar.

"A snowfield is not so different from a meadow, bears and yetis are both wild creatures, and the construction of a 'plain' is not plausibly similar to the construction of a 'patch,' at least as the two games depict those terms," it says.

It continues, "Because the allegations of its complaint plausibly satisfy both the intrinsic and extrinsic test, Spry Fox has plausibly alleged substantial similarity between Triple Town and Yeti Town."

With all this in mind, the court has denied 6Waves' motion to dismiss Spry Fox's copyright infringement claim. Gamasutra has contacted Spry Fox and 6Waves for comment.

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