Earlier today, developers of apps with the word Doodle in their titles started receiving notices from Lima Sky through Apple that they are in violation of Lima Sky intellectual property rights. Lima Sky is most famous for releasing one of the most popular games on the iOS platform, Doodle Jump.
I am as sick of the Doodle meme in iOS games as anyone – it’s unoriginal and quite simply boring. But trying to claim that you own the Doodle term or art style seems a bit absurd. Doodle Jump itself isn’t even unique – it just got many things right. It’s an old art style applied to a game type that’s been around forever.
Doodle Jump wasn’t even the first app in the App Store with Doodle in the title. There were multiple apps in the iTunes App Store with the word Doodle in their title before Doodle Jump. Some of those include Doodle Kids, uDoodle, Pocket Doodle, and Doodle Chat. Outside of the App Store there are countless examples of games with Doodle in the name that pre-date Doodle Jump.
As of today, their have been 730 applications approved for the App Store with the word Doodle in their title. Unoriginal yes; trademark violation? I don’t see how.
It’s a rather odd move for a developer that has been so friendly with other developers in the community. This just seems like a frivolous pursuit of small developers on the App Store. And for what? Does Lima Sky want to be the next Tim Langdell? Langdell’s claim of a trademark for the word Edge ended in failure when Electronic Arts stood up to him. And in the end he looked like the most evil person in the gaming industry.
We have requested comment from Lima Sky and their lawyers, but have yet to hear back. We’re interested to find what their exact trademark claims are and what they are requesting of the developers of other Doodle titles. We’ll update this post if we hear back from them.
Update: Developers have started talking about this over at the Touch Arcade forums here. Specifically, Bryan Duke of Acceleroto, developer of Doodle Hockey has a great description of the issue and his experiences.
Update 2: We got a standard form letter back from the lawyers representing Lima Sky confirming that Lima Sky is seeking to have apps with Doodle in the title change their names as they are claiming a trademark on the word Doodle. We’ll try to contact the lawyer in charge directly to get a comment later today, after the Verizon press conference.
Update 3: I’m no lawyer. But I’ve been informed that we’re actually talking about trademark here, not copyright. Article corrected.
[photo credit: Flickr user walkn]