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Apple has launched the Wordle Copycat app, but more will come

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A search for “Wordle” on the iOS App Store on Tuesday afternoon found a few apps that corresponded to the simple word game names and gameplays that have been talked about in the last few weeks. However, none of these iOS apps were created by Brooklyn-based software engineer Josh Wardle, who created a free web-based game last October.

All of these imitation apps are gone. This is the result of a late purge by App Store reviewers after getting the attention of social media. But this probably doesn’t mean the end of the Wordle clone. These quick removals describe the complex legal and social context surrounding copycat apps and the protection that developers can claim against game ideas.

Who owns Wordle?

First of all, it’s important to note that the basic five-letter guessing game that Wordle is based on is not a completely original idea in itself. The same basic gameplay was popularized by Lingo, a game show dating back to the 80’s in the United States and other countries. The two-player pen and paper game Jotto, dating back to 1955, is also very familiar to Wordle players. Prior to that, at least one source said that since the 19th century, a more traditional version of the game called Bulls and Cows has been played.

Conveniently, none of this history presents a legal issue to Wordle itself. “Whenever you have copyright, you protect the expression, not the idea,” Dallas lawyer Mark Metenitis told Ars. “This is a line that many people struggle with, especially when participating in games.”

In other words, it is very difficult to copyright the mechanics of an abstract game such as “guessing a five-letter word and giving hints based on the correct letters”. Game developers can apply for patents on original game ideas, a legal process that has been used to strangle video game clones in the past. However, patenting is a long and painstaking process that collapses if there is “prior art” before the idea (or if the mechanic is legally considered “trivial”). There is a possibility.

Free trademark for everyone

Apart from copyrights and patents, trademarks can at least legally protect the name Wordle from being misused by impersonators. However, unlike copyright, which is automatically applied when the work is published, the trademark provides very limited protection until and unless it is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. I will not.

A quick search on the USPTO website will show you two previous marks of software called “Wordle”. One is from 2010 and the other is from 2013. Suddenly a popular name.

As a result, the “Wordle” trademark can now be legally acquired. This is Monkey Labs Inc. It is the situation that the company is using. On January 7, the costume filed its own trademark application for “Wordle,” a downloadable computer application software for posting, displaying, or displaying information in the field of social networking, electronic games over the Internet. Claimed ownership of the name. In other words, it’s software for playing word puzzle games. “

There may be reason to revoke the trademark due to commercial misrepresentation under the Lanham Act of 1947, but such legal debate can be a difficult battle. This is especially true as other games and apps used that name before Wardle was created. Currently, there are three games in the iOS App Store. Wordle! , Wordle-Word puzzles, and Wordles are many years older than the Wardle version. None of these have any mechanical similarities to current viral hits, but there are more claims than anyone about the historical use of the name “Wordle”.

Clone attack

Trademarks aside, copyright law that protects Wordle itself helps protect anyone who wants to create their own version of the same basic idea. This means that there isn’t much that the law can do to prevent the existence of other five-character guessing games. Readers of Ars Technica may remember the explosion of similar iOS clones in the face of Vlambeer’s Radical Fishing, Super Crate Boy, Jenova Chen’s fl0w, SpryFox’s Triple Town, and more.

However, while Wordle’s ideas are not legally protected, the concrete representation of those ideas in the game is protected. As a result, clones of the Wardle version of the user interface, layout, and other design elements may still violate the law. In 2012, the Tetris Company used this discussion to shut down a particularly explicit Tetris clone on the App Store.

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://www.wired.com/story/apple-booted-wordle-copycat-apps-but-more-will-come/

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