Indie developer Spry Fox has filed suit against developer-publisher 6waves Lolapps in Seattle, WA district court, alleging that the company deliberately cloned Spry Fox’s Triple Town even as discussions continued between the two companies to publish the game on Facebook and iOS. Spry Fox is asking for an injunction against the clone called Yeti Town, damages up to $100,000 and any profits from 6waves Lolapps gained from Yeti Town in an amount no less than $500,000.
The complaint (downloadable here) lays out the timeline of events as follows:
- July 2011: 6waves – acting in conjunction with Lolapps prior to the merger – signs a non-disclosure agreement with Spry Fox as part of negotiations to publish the game on Facebook and possibly mobile.
- October 2011: Spry Fox self-publishes on Facebook, files with United States Copyright Office.
- December 2011: 6waves Lolapps breaks off negotiations with Spry Fox on the same day that Yeti Town is released in Apple’s App Store.
On its blog, Spry Fox explains that as part of the publishing negotiations, 6waves had access to Spry Fox’s private beta months before the game’s release (hence the NDA). The developer believed that negotiations were progressing while Yeti Town was being developed. This makes the cloning doubly egregious in Spry Fox’s eyes, and “we can not, in good conscience, ignore it.”
6waves Lolapps is sending out an emailed statement to press outlets seeking comment. We’ll publish as soon as the statement is made available. Note that given the timeline above, 6waves Lolapps could claim ignorance of cloning as Yeti Town was developed by Escalation Studios and released on iOS before 6waves Lolapps acquired Escalation. We observe that when Escalation’s own site was live before the acquisition, Yeti Town wasn’t at all advertised while all its other iOS games were.
To the larger point of cloning, we know that this is not the first — and probably not the last — time a developer’s game is ripped off by a studio looking to publish said developer’s game. Whether or not an NDA is signed often doesn’t matter as few developers are prepared to go to court over a clone, especially when it could put its resources toward developing a new game instead of paying a lawyer. In general, when fingers are pointed over too-similar games, it is the habit of publishers to settle the cases out of court.
UPDATE: 6waves Lolapps responds with the following statement.
“6waves Lolapps is disappointed that David Edery has chosen to file a lawsuit, and believes his claims are factually inaccurate. We respect others’ IP and did nothing to violate any contracts our team had in place. The copyright infringement claims are unjustified.”
This story originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Social Games.