March 08, 2010

Step 1. Rip Off Doodle Jump. Step 2. ??? Step 3. Profit?

A year ago, I introduced you to a simple, but challenging, iPhone game called Doodle Jump. Produced by Lima Sky, the fun game, which took advantage of the iPhone's accelerometer and had you jumping from platform to platform in search of new high scores, has seen phenomenal success, passing one million downloads before the end of 2009. Thus, it's no surprise that its success has drawn what I perceived to be the highest form form of flattery - complete copying, possibly with the intention of making you think there is a new companion game to the app, called "Doodle Run".

This evening, I got a press release on the new Doodle Run, being told I could "Run, fly, and shoot your way through danger with Doodle Run for iPhone". The game's graphics even were reminiscent of the trendsetting Doodle Jump, leveraging graph paper in the background of what looked to be a hand-drawn figure and hand-drawn scenery.

From the Doodle Run Press Release...

I immediately thought Doodle Run was the companion game to Doodle Jump, and clicked through to the Web site for Doodle Run, only to find out it wasn't Lima Sky behind the application, but instead, a developer called eBattalion, whose other work includes games such as Nanoids, Love Link and FLIP, also on the iTunes store - all of which were updated on March 8th, for whatever reason. It seemed to me that the addition of the word "Doodle" to their new Run game was to seize on the popularity of Doodle Jump and trick casual visitors like me into downloading their latest 99 cents offer without thinking.

I e-mailed Igor Pusenjak, co-founder of Lima Sky, to ask if the game was theirs or if there was any affiliation. It is not, and my e-mail was the first they had heard of it. Igor responded:
"Your assumptions are correct. This is not our game nor do we have any agreement with the developers. Thanks for bringing this to my attention."
I sent an e-mail to the eBatallion team as well, and they said that "no copyrights or trademarks were violated in the development of Doodle Run and the title is very descriptive of the actual content in the product." Sam, the developer, also pointed me to other applications, such as Doodle Army and Doodle Bomb, that used the same language, going so far as to suggest Doodle Jump was "very similar" to another product, called Papi Jump.
"The word “Doodle” is intended to describe the graphic style of the game, not any association with any of the other numerous doodle-style games on the App Store."
On first blush, this seemed like bad intentions of the highest order, which could and does cause confusion in the marketplace. Even if this game is amazing, I am avoiding it on name alone. But eBatallion may have a point that Lima Sky doesn't have a monopoly on the word "Doodle".

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