The Tetris Company and the iPhone

This article is Part I of a series that elucidates the issues surrounding iPhone Tetromino games, Intellectual Property Law, and the Tetris Company.  The series begins with a reproduction of the Tetris Company’s Cease and Desist Letters. Next, it defines and explains patent, trademark and copyright law. Finally, it concludes with a re-examination of Tetris Company’s claims of infringement.

The Tetris Company v. Tris, Kafablo, Teto Teto, Shaker, and Touchris

Since Aplpe Inc. launched the Appstore in August, 2008, the Tetris Company has bullied five Tetromino game developers into removing their games from the Appstore. Each developer received a Cease and Desist Letter from the Tetris Company, followed shortly by a warning from Apple to remove infringing materials. Let me start by saying that these letters are absolutely bogus. You will soon understand why.

Below is a compilation of the Cease and Desist letters that a few iPhone Tetromino game developers received.

“We are the intellectual property counsel for The Tetris Company, LLC, exclusive licensee of Tetris Holding, LLC in and to the Tetris® mark and game.  Collectively, The Tetris Company, LLC and Tetris Holding, LLC are referred to as ‘The Tetris Company.’  The Tetris Company is the owner of copyright in the game throughout the world, including U.S. copyright registrations PAu 1,214,036; PAu 1,214,035; PA 412,169; and PA 412,170.

This letter is a notice of infringement pursuant to § 512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law (section 512 is known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and your Copyright Infringement Policy at http://www.apple.com/legal/trademarkclaimsofcopyright.html. We also write pursuant to the Lanham Act, the federal trademark statute.

The Tetris Company recently became aware of your company’s promotion and display of a ‘—‘ game on Apple’s iTunes,  where the user may download and play the game. The ‘—‘ game violates the copyright in the Tetris® game because it is a  copy of our client’s game and was created and is being reproduced and sold or made available for play without our client’s prior permission or authorization.

Such wrongdoing subjects your company, and any other person or entity acting in concert with it, to an injunction, liability for statutory damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, disgorgement of profits, costs and attorneys’ fees under the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §101 et seq. Accordingly, The Tetris Company demands that you immediately cease display, distribution, publication or offering of the ‘—‘ game in question and any games infringing our client’s rights,  on any web site, or in any other fashion, whether via the Internet, or not.

I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in this notification is accurate and that I am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

This letter is without prejudice to our client’s legal rights and remedies, all of which are expressly reserved, and does not purport to be an exhaustive statement of its legal position.”

Explore posts in the same categories: iPhone, Tetris and Falling Block Games, Tetromino Games

One Comment on “The Tetris Company and the iPhone”

  1. manu Says:

    does that mean that no “falling-block-game” has a chance to be sold in the appstore fot the iphone/ipad because of immediate intervention of the tetris coorp?

    best wishes,
    manu


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