Video Game Law Blog

November 11, 2005

The case involved a dispute between a video game developer and a group of publishers and distributors. The Plaintiffs are the publishers; the Defendant is the developer.

The Defendant claimed that in 1995, one of the Plaintiffs engaged him to develop a game called Sharpshooter. The plaintiffs later created another shooting game, this one called Police Trainer 2. The defendant argued that the new game infringed his copyright in Sharpshooter. The Plaintiffs sued to obtain a declaratory judgment that they were not violating the defendant's copyright.

The Plaintiff argued that there was no infringement because there were no similarities in source code between the games, no substantial graphical similarities existed, the games are dissimilar in their feel and content, and, any similarity is the result of the use of uncopyrightable ideas. The judge agreed.

The Defendant had argued that the judge should not compare Police Trainer 2 to Sharpshooter alone. Rather, the judge should compare Police Trainer 2 to what the defendant called a series of games, represented by Police Trainer and Sharpshooter together. The judge rejected this argument, finding that two games alone did not constitute a long enough running series.

Upon review of the allegedly similar portions of the game, consisting of a “Balloon's Challenge”, a “Memory Challenge” a “Whack the Criminal” segment, and a “Select Rank Exam” the judge found that there was no evidence of copying.

Team Play, Inc. v. Boyer
September 28, 2005 US Dist. Ct., ND Ill.
US Dist. LEXIS 21753
KEYWORDS: developer – publisher – copyright infringement
Summary by Ryan Garrett