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Zynga Accused of Cloning Hit Indie iPhone Game Tiny Tower 245

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-did-it-first dept.
FrankPoole writes "Indie iPhone game developer Nimblebit is accusing social games giant Zynga of ripping off its popular mobile title Tiny Tower. Nimblebit's Ian Marsh got word out about the similarities between Dream Heights and Tiny Tower with an image that's still making the Twitter rounds. The image is made up of screenshots showing how Dream Heights' interface and gameplay mechanics appear strikingly similar to Tiny Tower's."
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Zynga Accused of Cloning Hit Indie iPhone Game Tiny Tower

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  • GNU/Cloning (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Thursday January 26, 2012 @07:36AM (#38827039) Homepage Journal

    This is more about moral rules than the law.

    So should Linus Torvalds and the GNU project "morally" not have cloned UNIX when making GNU/Linux?

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MDillenbeck (1739920) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @07:52AM (#38827099)

    This may be a good time to use the low-tech equivalent to check the validity of the arguments. I don't know anything about the two apps in question, but ask yourself this: at what point would a variant of the board game Monopoly be different enough to ensure Parker Brothers couldn't sue you? Would be keeping the same rules, same basic board layout, and same "props" (player tokens, money, property cards, dice, and two decks of event cards) while changing the color, name, and art style of those keep you from being sues? For example, could I make the tokens space ships, the properties different star systems, the money "space credits" that use plastic coins instead of paper bills, and use public domain images of the star systems and call is "Stellar Baron" and not get sued?

    Now back to the user interface. If this was the user interface of an operating system, would the original OS UI maker have a court case? What if it was a general application interface? What about making a knock-off of Farmville in the same manner... or replicating its mechanics with a new graphical interface and naming convention - would the developer of the game get sued, and would it be successful?

    Finally, if there is a lawyer in the house, what court cases have set precedent in these areas? Honestly, I do not know the answer to these as law is not my field of study. However, I do know I need to know the history of how courts have ruled before I can say whether this is a legal violation or not. (My personal bias: I believe large companies have successfully sued, while small independent game developers of boardgames often have not - but this is based only on a one week investigation into the board game developer career.)

  • I remember very well. In the remote year of 2011 [techcrunch.com] Zynga [wikipedia.org] was accusing Vostu [wikipedia.org] of cloning some of their game.

    Also in 2009 [techcrunch.com] Zynga was sued for Copyright infringement, this time the settlement was filled by Psycho Monkey, due to the game Mafia Wars.

    It seems that there is something very supicious happening with Zynga.

  • Re:marketing.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:59AM (#38827371) Journal
    Yeah but it is kinda sad a guy can bust his ass making something unique only to have some scumbum company like Zynga bold face copy the thing. it looks like they only gave it a little graphical polish and called it a day, pretty obvious ripoff IMHO. hopefully the guy can get a good lawyer that will rip Zynga a new one.
  • Thompson and Ritchie (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Thursday January 26, 2012 @09:03AM (#38827387) Homepage Journal

    Yeah but it is kinda sad a guy can bust his ass making something unique only to have some scumbum company like Zynga bold face copy the thing.

    Likewise it's kinda sad that Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie can bust their asses making something unique only to have some scumbum company like FSF bold face copy the thing. Or are you trying to say cloning the functionality of a computer program is OK as long as the publisher of the clone is one of Slashdot's darling companies?

  • by voss (52565) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @09:15AM (#38827497)

    Actually Apple did steal a lot of their ideas for the Mac from the Xerox Parc

    "No, Steve, I think its more like we both have a rich neighbor named Xerox, and you broke in to steal the TV set, and you found out I'd been there first, and you said. "Hey that's no fair! I wanted to steal the TV set! - Bill Gates' response after Steve Jobs accused Microsoft of borrowing the GUI (Graphical User Interface) from Apple for Windows 1.0* "

    http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa043099.htm [about.com]

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