This whole lawsuit trend of recent months feels like it might be getting a bit out of hand. Just today, yet another filling was made within the social space, and this time it’s across the pond in Japan. The country’s second biggest social company, GREE filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against its number one competitor, and largest social company, DeNA, in the Tokyo District Court.
It seems that everyone within the digital space is into lawsuits this year — its a sign of a competitive industry, perhaps. This latest one tops off a list of well over two dozen suits that we know about. On that list includes the multiple copyright suits from David Maestri against Zynga and Playdom (YouPlus back then) over Mob Wars, Mafia and Mobsters respectively; several trademark and copyright infringement suits from Zynga themselves (who, alone, are up to 22, albeit mostly against chip fraudster); the patent company lawsuit against virtual worlds creators Blizzard (United States), NCSoft (South Korea), Sony (Japan), Jagex (England), and Turbine (U.S.); and even the lawsuit threats towards Apple from game and app developers over late or missing payments. Some of the said lawsuits are legitimate and some are more like opportunism — taking advantage of loopholes in the legal system to make a quick buck off other peoples’ hard work.
The jury is still out on which of the above applies to this Japanese court case. According to GREE, their fishing game, Tsuri Star 2, was copied by DeNA for use in their mobile social gaming platform, Mobage-Town. From what is known thus far (via Asiajin), the specific accusation says that DeNA copied features such as GREE’s game’s top page and its fish-catching game mechanic, violating both copyright and unfair-competition laws.
By the end of June this year, DeNA weighed in at around 14.5 million users compared to GREE’s 12.6 million. Nonetheless, GREE claims a growth of one million new users per month, meaning that the user stats may have very well changed by this point. Regardless, as to whether or not numbers are a motivating factor, Japanese media reports that the companies have actually been trying to resolve this copyright issue for some time now. However, what specifically caused the negotiations to break down into a legal battle is not yet known.
Here’s a video on how GREE’s fishing game plays: