Lima Sky's Igor Pusenjak over Doodlegate: 'If we don't police our trademarks, we lose them'
App Store legal fight kicks off
Trademarks are one of those issues that by definition are highly legal and hence not well understood by the general public.
It's a context that makes the news that Doodle Jump developer Lima Sky has been sending out warnings, via Apple, to those studios who have released games on the App Store with Doodle in the title - 730 according to 148apps - a tricky one to call.
Hammer for a nut?
The news broke last night on the Touch Arcade forums, with the developer of Doodle Monster revealing it was planning to change its title having received warning from Apple.
However, Bryan Duke of developer Acceleroto, has revealed he's been in debate over this issue for several months over his game Doodle Hockey.
"Lima Sky owns the trademark for Doodle Jump, registered November 2, 2010. Lima Sky currently has a 'design only' trademark published for opposition for the main character of their game. Lima Sky does not own the trademark for the word 'doodle'," he explains.
Duke goes on to say that all companies with a Doodle game in the App Store should stand up to Lima Sky.
"Every lawyer I've spoken with thinks Igor [Lima Sky CEO] doesn't have a leg to stand on here," he claims.
"If we all stand together on this, the little guy won't be so little. I'm fighting this. You should too."
Protection of the law
However, there is some precedent for trademarks being enforced on the Apple App Store. Korean publisher Com2uS owns the term 'Tower Defense', forcing many games to switch their titles to use the initials TD last year.
As for Lima Sky, we spoke to founder Igor Pusenjak late last night, who briefly commented, "We are required by USPTO [US Patent and Trademark Office] to monitor and police our trade marks. If we don't, we lose them."
Of course, the difference between enforcing a trademark on the word Doodle in a game title and on the term Doodle Jump presents a large degree of latitude, especially if you only have a trademark on one of them.
Indeed, the real joker in the pack is Apple itself, which as it's proved in the past, has the ability and willingness to pull games off the App Store without much reason or redress - although whether it would do that to 730 games seems highly questionable.
We're guessing there's going to be plenty more legal analysis and community debate before this issue is cleaned up.
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Fred Clarke | 17:15 - 11 January 2011
We received a similar request for our game "Doodle Defense!" (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/doodle-defense/id368876747?mt=8) and have no plans to take it down. Bryan Duke has it right. Lima Sky owns the trademark "Doodle Jump." Magic the Gathering does not own all game uses of the word "Magic" and Star Wars does not own all movie/game/etc. uses of the word "Star" or "Wars."
And, even if they did have a Trademark to the word Doodle (a trademark that would quickly become invalidated if challenged because it is a generic term and because of software products that pre-dated its own), it would not protect them from all uses of the word. Anyone see the movie Cars? Think I can release a movie called Cars Defense? The answer would be yes - provided the movie was not a blatant rip-off of the Cars movie and would confuse users to think the movie was related to the movie Cars.
I wonder if doodle.com will go after Lima Sky, since they have been out there since 2007? I guess we also better stop our launch of our Yankee Doodle app!
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