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I'm being sued for 'copying game play' ?!


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#21 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 18857

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Posted 15 February 2014 - 12:24 PM

The legal process is rather long. He got a C&D order, which is right near the very beginning of the process.

Well, no. He got an email from some unknown guy which alleges some claim and alleges some lawyer costs. That isn't quite the same thing.
 
If you get a C&D order, you get it via certified mail (that is, on paper), and you get an invoice for the attorney's fees with the letter along with a threat of legal proceedings if you do not comply within 14 days (or a similar time period).
Ah, didn't see the 'email' word in the original.

As noted in my earlier reply with "signature and proof of delivery", I totally agree. Legal demands are sent through paper channels that require real signatures to ensure delivery. Email doesn't cut it. Yeah, that kind of email bill is safe to ignore. A real C&D demand, however, is not.
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#22 mdwh   Members   -  Reputation: 821

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 08:54 AM

If you have released this on the Apple app store then Apple have a system in place for protecting iOS developers. If the other developer wants you pull your game then they need to contact Apple and not send you a C&D.

Well, in practice someone can attempt to sue (or threaten to do so) who they like. Normal practice is to send a C&D to the site, but they can still sue who they like, no matter what Apple or anyone else say - in the unlikely even that he was sued, I'm not aware that those whole teams of lawyers would turn up to defend him...

In practice, I agree with every else that this smells of a scam or extortion attempt.
 

 

It is a part of doing business, and by virtue of putting a product on the market you are in business.

You're right that sometimes scammers can do real damage. OTOH, is he doing business, when he isn't selling/charging, or doing anything to otherwise promote a way of making money? People can be sued for any reason, even if it isn't business - but then, it isn't a part of doing business, it becomes a part of life.

When you're not in business, people often can't afford to pay a lawyer for every scam or threat that may come along - it is a useful first step to ask for free advice first, to see which situations may require seeing a lawyer (and indeed, in this case it seems to have been useful, to find out that an email in itself does not constitute a legal C&D).


Edited by mdwh, 17 February 2014 - 08:58 AM.

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http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mark.harman/conquests.html - Conquests, Open Source Civ-like Game for Windows/Linux

#23 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4510

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 11:43 AM

People can be sued for any reason, even if it isn't business - but then, it isn't a part of doing business, it becomes a part of life.
Makes you wish you'd live in ancient Babylon, under Hammurabi's law, doesn't it? If you dragged someone to court and it turned out you were deliberately making a false claim or giving false testimony, you had to pay back ten times the sum disputed. And if you didn't, you became the other one's slave.

Oh, and of course judges were held responsible, and punished for demonstrably wrong trials, too...



#24 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 18857

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 12:22 PM

It is a part of doing business, and by virtue of putting a product on the market you are in business.

OTOH, is he doing business, when he isn't selling/charging, or doing anything to otherwise promote a way of making money?

That is actually pretty complicated.

Unfortunately it gets into lots of different aspects. In some ways it is a business and in some ways it is not.

He clearly created a product, a thing of value. He is selling the product, but not for cash. He is marketing his product, but not extensively. Take a look at his web site, including the "Get it here, now" text, including all the bullet points encouraging people to get it; clearly something of value is being traded. The value may be only a few moments of entertainment, but the entertainment business is huge.


First up is commerce.

Regardless of where he is physically located, he has created a product and made his product available on the global market. He placed a product on a store based in the United States. Several copies of the product were actually sold, not necessarily for money, but the law allows for the trade of just about anything, including goodwill.

He has clearly engaged in commerce in the United States and the transactions are subject to the law as it refers to commerce and trade. That includes quite a lot of benefits, including trademark protections, but also includes a few responsibilities like proper marking. That means he can also be sued and threatened under commerce and trade laws even if he never made any money.


Next up, taxes.

When it comes to taxes, all of that commerce and trade gets interpreted under different rules. Businesses -- especially startups -- can offer goods and services for free, can operate at a loss, and can even exist without selling anything at all for a few years.

Trading or selling the results of your hobby can be taxed as a business. That is quite common. The threshold for how much income you can make before reporting it on taxes varies by location, but it isn't very high.



But is that a business?

It is absolutely engaging in commerce, it may or may not reach a tax threshold, but does that make his actions a business? Maybe. It depends on the local law. It may be considered a hobby or a business depending on how much it affects his life, how much time and effort he put in to it, the market value of the product (which can be very different from the cash value), the way he keeps records, or many other factors.


So as you can see, it gets complicated quickly. Business and law are fun that way.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#25 conq   Members   -  Reputation: 336

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 12:59 PM

I've received dozens of Email C&D's, and legal threats in general. I even had someone threaten to sue me for "blackmail" because I distributed information about a court case against him when he banned me from a game.

 

Only bother contacting Apple if you get one in writing, that can be verified as authentic. Whatever you do, don't contact them, because they'll think they can fleece you for some money.



#26 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4510

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 01:43 PM

because I distributed information about a court case against him when he banned me from a game.
While this is nonsense, it is not as much nonsense as you may be inclined to think.

 

I know of people who received clearly deceitful C&D letters from fraudulent lawyers (alleging things that they didn't commit and which are not against any law either) and subsequently got successfully sentenced for copyright infringment because they published the contents of that bullshit claim on their website. Believe it or not, even if a claim is totally ridiculous, you are still infringing a copyright if you copy it...

 

Always be careful what you publish.



#27 KoMaXX   Members   -  Reputation: 254

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 04:19 PM

Thank you all for your incredibly insightful contributions!

 

Just a quick update:

I found an attorney who agreed to have a look into the matter for a reasonable (and fixed) fee. I didn't get her final verdict yet but she advised me *strongly* to do nothing for now (no contact, no payment, no app removal) as this might be interpreted as admission of guilt. She also said that she was quite confident that this simply a scam, quoting the same arguments you guys already posted, especially the fact that it's an email.

 

Tomorrow, hopefully, I'll know for sure. And buy legal costs insurance :/


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#28 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 18857

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 06:23 PM

>> And buy legal costs insurance :/

Maybe. For some things like the risk of lawsuits and E&O there are types of insurance that can help. But usually it is just a cost of doing business.

Your situation is somewhat unique that you didn't really intend to do anything with the app and that you claim you didn't have any intention for it to be noticed.



Most of the time people build lawyer visits in to their business plan. You need all kinds of legal forms and paperwork as a group of co-conspirators turns into a small studio. It starts with collaboration agreements, government registration and articles of incorporation, NDAs, and then slowly grows to employment contracts and help navigating legal requirements for unemployment insurance, proper insurance for site liability and co-worker safety, publisher agreements, EULAs, and various quarterly government filings.

At first the legal needs are small, maybe 2-3 visits per year. If your studio grows into something of a success you will probably have monthly check-ins at a minimum, more frequent meetings when specific needs appear. It depends on your location on the globe and the types of services needed, but around here you can find good business lawyers around $150/hr to $200/hr or a similar flat fee for boilerplate stuff.

When you think about what they provide as a professional service that can keep you out of court and help you sleep better at night, the few hundred per year is a pretty good investment for a startup. Obviously if you didn't have a plan for it I'm sure it is a painful little sting.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#29 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4510

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 07:07 AM

>> And buy legal costs insurance :/
Maybe. For some things like the risk of lawsuits and E&O there are types of insurance that can help. But usually it is just a cost of doing business.

One should note that the legal costs insurance is not to cover your studio's regular lawyer expenses. In that case it would be prohibitively expensive, it would be akin to using a cash-value life ensurance for savings -- some people still do that, but this usually does not make a lot of sense (there used to be a time when you could save capital returns tax doing that, which outbalanced the meager returns of the insurance, but nowadays you only feed the insurance company to no avail).

 

You also don't have a legal costs insurance to cover your studio's $250,000,000 lawsuit with a patent troll.

 

The reason to have a legal costs insurance is to mitigate the risk for you, as a private person. In other words, you can sleep at night without having to fear great evil.

 

I've had a legal cost insurance for 24 years, and it cost me around 300€ per year (which is tax-deductible, so it's really only 150€). All in all, for those 24 years, that's 7,200€, and the theory goes like if I'm lucky and never have to go to court, I'll have paid about 15,000 € during my lifetime for not having to worry.

 

As it happens, in reality, I've had 4 lawsuits during those 24 years (two were probate disputes which unluckily a legal costs insurance doesn't cover), but the other two were covered just fine. A "normal" no-joke lawsuit that average private people can reasonably get into costs anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 € for your lawyer, and in case you lose about the same sum for court fees and compensations for the other side's expenses. If the judge orders a consultant (which they like to do, in order to give their decision a "legitimation"), add another 1,000 to 25,000 €, depending on what the lawsuit is about.

So, depending on your "luck", you may have to pay anywhere from 2,000 to 50,000 €. Or, who knows, more...

 

If you have this covered, you couldn't care less.



#30 KoMaXX   Members   -  Reputation: 254

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 07:46 AM

So, here is the conclusion:
The email was sent by a scammer. Sang Ki Kwon, the author of "Block Puzzle", was not involved in this *at all*. 

 

Let me repeat that: Sang Ki Kwon is completely innocent of all that and I'm sorry that I gave him bad reputation around here.

 

I've nothing to take down and nothing to pay but my attorneys fees :) Still mad at that #^$% Scammer though.

 

Thank you guys for your help through all this!


Go on, feed your brain: http://poroba.com/flip/flipz.php





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