Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Software Copyrights Keep Gaining Steam: Spry Foxx Sues 6Waves

Local Seattle game developer Spry Foxx has sued 6waves for software copyright infringement based on 6waves's knock-off of Spry Foxx's hit game Triple Town. Good for Spry Foxx.Spry Fox sues 6waves for software copyright infringement
Triple Town is shown on the left, and the 6waves knock-off on the right. There are definitely similarities, although to my eye not as many as the Vostu knock-off of the Zynga Cafe World game. But it's hard to do a real side-by-side comparison of two complete games with just the still screen captures from the Spry Foxx complaint. But still, the rest of the story fills in the blanks and leads me to believe that this is more than even a simple knock-off, but an overt act of corporate espionage.
Turns out, Spry Foxx and 6waves were in active, confidential negotiations for a deal that would see 6waves publish Spry Foxx's Triple Town game. Then, out of nowhere, 6waves pulls out of the deal and publishes its own version. During the negotiations, 6waves had access to Spry Foxx's code and everything under the hood. In the words of Spry Foxx's CEO David Edery, what 6waves did was "profoundly unethical by any measure." I agree.
6waves denies any wrongdoing. Of course they do. What else are they going to say: "Dang, we were hoping you wouldn't notice that"? It is important to note that Rex Ng, CEO of 6waves, only denies that they violated the terms of the NDA. He does not deny (or at least I haven't seen it) that 6waves knocked-off Spry Foxx's game.
So here we are. A small game developer comes up with the magic formula for a hot game. Shortly thereafter, a much larger game developer knocks it off, competing against the smaller developer with their own game. Does anyone still not believe that this is exactly the kind of copying that software copyrights are intended to prevent?