The Headache of Copycat Apps


If you are a mobile app developer with popular app, there are chances that sooner or later someone will copy your idea. It has happened with lots of developers/apps and it may happen with you too. Cut the Rope for example is a popular game. It has got place in lots of top lists of smartphone games and available for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry devices.

The Candy Monster

But here is its duplicate- The Candy Monster, with almost similar theme and appearance. Both games have green monsters in search of candies and both look like almost similar. However, the big different between both games is that Cut the Rope has been available since 2010, whereas The Candy Monster premiered in 2012. The Candy Monster is not the first game with cheap imitations. The practice of copycat is popular these days; it spans all types of verticals.

Another victim app is Fruit Ninja, in which user tries to slice as many pieces of fruit as possible within a limited time. It’s a popular app and this year, it has also got its duplicate as Vegetable Samurai for iOS. However it doesn’t copy any image or text, but the game has similar look and feel as Fruit Ninja.

Tetris, for example has been the most popular games of all time and now only Electronic Arts can sell a mobile version of Tetris; however, many developers have been launching games on similar theme for which The Tetris Company repeatedly sued them.

In 2011, Developer Mario Karangiannis has to pull his game Tetrada from Windows Phone 7 marketplace. The developer insisted he didn’t violate copyright but due to lack of financial resources, he had been unable to fight the claim. Big companies like The Tetris Company know all the ways how to protect their original work.

So how developers can protect or copyright their original work?

According to Circular 61 of the U.S. Copyright Office, Copyright Registration for Computer Programs “Copyright protection extends to all the copyrightable expression embodied in the computer program. Copyright protection is not available for ideas, program logic, algorithms, systems, methods, concepts, or layouts.”

Another way to have maximum protection is you register your work with U.S. copyright office, as If a work is not registered, it cannot be sued for copyright infringement. Also, registration makes you eligible for statutory damages up to $150,000 and attorney’s fees in such type of suit.

According to specialists of copyright, patents and trademark issues, first you need to choose what kind of app you would like to copyright and whether it is more text-based or image-based. If an app has lots of visual arts, it should be registered as a “performing art.”


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