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Distinctive Software, Inc. (DSI) was a Canadian video game developer established in Burnaby, British Columbia, by Don Mattrick and Jeff Sember after their success with the game Evolution. Distinctive Software was the predecessor to EA Canada. Most DSI games were distributed by Accolade.
Distinctive Software was best known in the late 1980s for their ports, racing and sports games, including the Test Drive series and Stunts. The code base for 1987's Test Drive was also used for Test Drive II: The Duel, 1988's Grand Prix Circuit, and 1989's The Cycles: International Grand Prix Racing.
In 1991, DSI was acquired by Electronic Arts in a deal worth US$11 million and became EA Canada. This was significant blow to Accolade, which lost credibility and market share in the following years.
Trade-named as Unlimited Software, Inc., and lawsuit
In 1989, programmers Pete Gardner and the "Old Kid" (Amory Wong) of DSI, under the pseudonym USI (Unlimited Software, Inc.), converted Sega's arcade game Out Run into a DOS version. For Out Run, they used several software libraries they had developed for Test Drive II. Consequently, Accolade charged that DSI violated a working agreement, and sued. Accolade sought a preliminary injunction against the distribution and sale of Out Run. Distinctive Software argued that it had only used source code that did routine functions, such as clearing the video screen and that Accolade did not own a copyright on those functions. Accolade argued that their contract for Test Drive II gave them the ownership and copyright of the final product—the game—and the source code used to create it. Distinctive Software won; the court ruled that "the licensing agreement transfers to Accolade the copyright to the concept and design of the video game but not the underlying source code." The court also found that Accolade had failed to demonstrate that the balance of hardships was in its favor.
- Dannenberg, Ross (May 30, 2005). "Case: Accolade v. Distinctive (N.D.Cal. 1990) [C]". Patent Arcade. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
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