Knockoffs, the Nemesis of the Gaming World


On March 22, Amazon launched the Appstore, bringing video games to the fingertips of thousands of Android users who, like their iPhone and iPad-toting friends, can now purchase and play video games anywhere, anytime. Due to mobile device games’ ease of access, highly addictive nature, and low price points, the market for such games has exploded in recent years. With many such games achieving almost cult-like status (think Angry Birds, which has achieved over 100 million downloads across all platforms), the emergence of knockoffs is practically inevitable.

In fact, we have already witnessed a number of copyright disputes between game developers and their alleged infringers, some of which have actually reached litigation. However, before attorneys rush to advise their mobile game developer clients to file suit, they should bear in mind the relatively limited copyright protection video games historically have received. While there is not yet a body of copyright law specific to mobile device games, the analytical framework established in video game cases dating back to the 1980s is certain to shape copyright claims involving mobile games.

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