A U.S. court has denied a motion by 6Waves Lolapps to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Spry Fox over allegations of copyright infringement.
Spry Fox founder David Edry claims 6Waves’s Yeti town is a blantant copy of his Triple Town, and filed suit against the company in January this year.
Edry said 6Waves had access to source code for Triple Town while considering a publishing deal with Spry Fox.
He claimed 6Waves then broke off negotiations the day Yeti Town was published.
The motion to dismiss was filed shortly afterwards, but the court has ruled 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," read the decision as reported by Gamasutra.
"Those similarities pervade the games, from their underlying concepts to their rules to the visual appearance of their characters and backgrounds."
The court noted that there are many differences between the two games, but 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."
The court also stated that Spry Fox cannot be deemed to have a monopoly on the idea behind Triple Town.
It is important to note these findings do not apply to functional elemnts of the game, which are offered no protection under copyright law.
While expressive elements in games are offered protection, vaguely expressive ideas such as grid size receive only what the court calls a "thin protection".
But "Spry Fox’s allegations are more than adequate to illustrate plausibly the objectively similar expression embodied in Yeti Town," says the ruling.
"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."
The court concludes: "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."