The Tetris Company
|Type||Limited liability company|
|Services||Licensor of the Tetris brand|
|Owner||Tetris Holding, LLC (50%)|
Blue Planet Software (50%)
The Tetris Company, LLC (TTC) is based in Hawaii and is owned by Henk Rogers, Alexey Pajitnov and Blue Planet Software. The company is the exclusive licensee of Tetris Holding LLC, the company that owns Tetris rights worldwide. It licenses the Tetris brand to third parties.
Tetris, originally conceived by Alexey Pajitnov is widely considered one of the most popular games ever since its release in 1984, which was reflected by its mobile edition being the top seller in the industry 2006. The Tetris Company licenses the Tetris trademark (which includes Tetris trade dress elements, such as the distinct brightly colored blocks and the vertically rectangular play field) to video game development companies and maintains a set of guidelines that each licensed game must meet (for instance, the button controls for game functions must be consistent.) The visual expression in a number of official Tetris games is covered by copyrights that are owned by Tetris Holding, LLC, a company that was founded by Pajitnov and Henk Rogers. The Tetris Company has issued licenses to third parties for the production of Tetris-based games and other products, such as greeting cards and lottery tickets.
Elektronorgtechnica (ELORG) was the Soviet agency, and later, privatized Russian company initially created to license state owned software and hardware to private industry. Initially, ELORG was a partner in The Tetris Company, and at one point was a 50 percent owner until Rogers and Pajitnov bought ELORG's remaining rights around 2005. Tetris Holding, a newly created company into which Pajitnov placed his Tetris rights and Rogers' Blue Planet Software company each own 50 percent of The Tetris Company who is now the issuer for all Tetris licenses.
TTC drew attention in the late 1990s when it attempted to remove freeware and shareware versions of Tetris from the market by sending out cease-and-desist letters claiming both trademark and copyright infringement, having copyrighted and trademarked every aspect of Tetris, such as the playfield dimensions, the next piece, and the shapes of the blocks. Creators of Tetris clones claimed that the company had no valid legal basis to restrict tetromino games that did not infringe on the Tetris name trademark, since copyright "look-and-feel" suits have not stood up in court in the past (Lotus v. Borland), and because the letters made no patent claims.
In August 2008, Apple Inc. removed Tris, a version of Tetris from its online App Store. The software author had written a tetromino game for the iPhone iOS without authorization from The Tetris Company. In March 2009, The Tetris Company sued BioSocia, operator of the Omgpop gaming portal because one of its multiplayer games, Blockles, was too similar to Tetris. By September 2009, Omgpop removed the game from the website and replaced it with an alternate that the developers created, based on Puyo Puyo.
In May 2010, lawyers representing The Tetris Company sent Google a Digital Millennium Copyright Act Violation Notice regarding Tetris clones available for Android. Google responded by removing the 35 games listed in the notice as it was legally obliged to do, even though, according to one developer, the games contained no references to Tetris.
In February 2011, The Tetris Company continued to make copyright claims against independently developed Tetris clones, most notably against Tetrada on the Windows Phone 7 marketplace. The developer, Mario Karagiannis, rejected the claims of copyright infringement on the grounds that copyright does not cover gameplay design, but still removed the game, citing lack of resources to fight what he called "bullying".
A US District Court judge ruled in June 2012, that the Tetris clone Mino from Xio Interactive infringed on the Tetris Company's copyrights by replicating elements such as the playfield dimensions and the shapes of the blocks.
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