Watch out, Facebook game makers: Tetris beat a clone in court

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TetrisA lot of casual and social game cloning cases are about to be revisited, we bet. A New Jersey court recently ruled in favor of The Tetris Company, which sued casual game maker Xio for copyright infringement. The developer admitted to copying the company's flagship franchise with Mino, a puzzler that allegedly looks and plays identical to Tetris.

This would normally fly on account of the usual defense to come from cloned game creators--"that it copied only non-expressive, functional elements of the original game," according to Sunstein Law member Jack C. Schecter. But not this time. The New Jersey court respected that, while the actual functions and rules of Tetris are not protected by copyright, the way in which the game expresses those ideas is, in fact, protected. However, the "underlying idea of Tetris should be distinguished from the game's protectable expression."

This court ruling could, and probably will, inform future decisions made by judges presiding over copyright infringement suits in the games industry. The countless cases reported earlier this year of copycatting could very well be revisited, which means big time developers--ahem, Zynga--better have stellar legal teams.

[Via Kotaku]

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