Court Orders DeNA To Remove Fishing Game On Mobage, Pay GREE [Social Games]

A long battle in court has come to an end (for now): back in September 2009, GREE sued DeNA for infringing the copyright on their hit social game Tsuri Star. The title, a fishing game, was (and still is) one of GREE’s biggest money makers.

GREE says DeNA has copied elements like Tsuri Star’s top page design or the game’s fish-catching mechanics in their fishing game, Tsurige Town 2 (which was developed by Tokyo-based mobile software and gaming company Orso).

Here’s is how Tsuri Star on GREE looked back then (via IT Media) – the game was later released on smartphones as well:

And here are two screenshots of Tsurige Town 2 on Mobage:

In my eyes, GREE did have a point, especially when it comes to the fish-catching element (shown on the right on both images above).

Today, the Tokyo District Court ordered DeNA to stop offering their fishing game on Mobage and and pay Gree 234.6 million yen (US$2.9 million) in damages. DeNA already reacted by saying they will appeal the ruling.

Update:
In the ruling today, the court said that actually just one screen violates GREE’s copyright, the screen in which the player pulls up the fishing rod.

Needless to say, the money itself is just peanuts for a company like DeNA, but the ruling sends a signal to the social gaming industry in Japan as a whole.

For example, Klab is currently suing its competitor Crooz (both are listed companies, too) in a very similar case. Konami has sued Tokyo-based gloops in another copyright infringement case.

The Tsuri Star case isn’t the only legal battle DeNA and GREE are currently involved in: in October 2011, GREE sued the Mobage operator, claiming DeNA pressures 3rd-party developers not to offer games on the competing platform.

In that case, DeNA reacted by suing GREE back earlier this month.

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