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Apple removes game after Chinese company cloned, trademarked, requested takedown (reddit.com)
1276 points by mastazi 54 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 325 comments



This has happened to lots of mediums sized businesses operating in China that didn’t have the resources to fight it.

Wups!


I'm confused as to why the takedown is worldwide. Does China threaten the company if they don't apply Chinese IP law apply outside of the country? Since their IP laws are terribly primitive they clash with the rest of the world, so that seems impossible.


I don't think taking it down worldwide has anything to do with China. It was an Apple decision.


One thing I haven't seen anyone say is that he should be FINE in the US. He likely has recourse in the US given common law rights - no?


Apple can just block you for any reason. Even if you win the lawsuit and the copycat gets taken down, they won't have to host your app on their store.


only if they have money for lawyers which apparently they don't.


standard chinese play. Someone may check Jordan the basket guy (the chinese one I meant), cookie, ... many funny one. Not sure all real but must be a lot as these kind of news just keep on coming up


Is the "first to file" topic even relevant here? It seems to be a way of handling patents. But this case is about trademarks.


It is relevant for trademarks as well. In the US, it's a first to use with regards to trademarks, but China has a first to file trademark system.


Being at the mercy of an external entity without recourse secured by a fair bilateral contract is just no sound basis for a business.


They took it down worldwide? Or just in China?

Worldwide, I have the st00pids.


But is it worldwide under just the Chinese name "点击英雄" or also the English name "Clicker Heroes"? The only relevant reply I saw was not definitive on this:

> We can re-name it in China, yeah. With a ton of effort changing all of the artwork we created with the old name. But renaming "Clicker Heroes" (which we already trademarked) in the U.S. and EU would be senseless

Initially I thought it was the latter but now I think it is the former (only the Chinese name affected).

Edit: this reply from the reddit thread but not be the game author suggests it is the former as well: https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/bs6n3l/apple_remov...


It is the only version, which is localized in both English and Chinese, that was taken down worldwide. You can go see on the app store that the English "Clicker Heroes" is removed from all search results.


Why does it matter if only the Chinese name is affected? Apple doesn't ban names, it only bans apps. Therefore the app gets taken down in the entire world. Really the lesson here is to create a new "app" in every supported country to prevent this type of abuse.


This. Everyone's downvoting my comment below, but they're not understanding this. People who say this is not the issue need to explain why.


I read your comment now but I don't see the relation, I'm just wondering whether they are banned by Apple from selling under both the Chinese and English names or just the Chinese name.

In regards to your comment below, a Chinese name doesn't indicate that they are targeting China -- there are other Chinese-speaking markets like the sovereign countries of Taiwan, Malaysia, etc. But I agree that they likely were in part targeting sales in China, and that they ought to have trademarked the Chinese name in China (along with other Chinese-speaking markets).


I'd have to understand Malaysian IP laws before I can comment on that, may or may not agree. For Taiwan, I disagree, as Taiwan uses traditional Chinese characters, not simplified Chinese characters. IANAL, so maybe simplified vs traditional doesn't matter either in IP matters, of course.


Yeah I'm a bit confused now.


It's mentioned in the first sentence.


Sorry


Worldwide


But does someone expect something different from Apple?


Usage doesn't give you the rights to a name you need to trademark it to obtain legal protection. This is business 101. I feel sorry for the company but this is really an elementary error on their part.


They did trademark it in the US and EU. Then Apple removed it from all countries because someone trademarked it in China - this is obviously Apple's fault, not the business. If they removed it from only China, no one would care.


I laughed when someone predicted to me that US would get interested in fixing stupid IP practices once China gets better than them at it. Looks like we are nearing that point.


why if u have a huge game going on not trademark it yourself?


I wish everyone would just ban Chinese goods already


Did the non Chinese have any trademarks? Anywhere?


I'm not sure if it is possible to link to the results of a trademark search at the PTO site, so I'll just copy/paste the info:

Word Mark CLICKER HEROES

Goods and Services IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Electronic games services provided by means of the internet; Entertainment services, namely, providing online electronic games; Entertainment services, namely, providing temporary use of non-downloadable interactive games; Providing on-line computer games; Providing online augmented reality games. FIRST USE: 20140701. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20140701

Standard Characters Claimed

Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK

Serial Number 86389199

Filing Date September 9, 2014

Current Basis 1A

Original Filing Basis 1A

Published for Opposition February 17, 2015

Registration Number 4731199

Registration Date May 5, 2015

Owner (REGISTRANT) Playsaurus, Inc. CORPORATION CALIFORNIA 3435 Wilshire Blvd #2748 Los Angeles CALIFORNIA 90010

Attorney of Record Elizabeth Oliner

Disclaimer NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE "CLICKER" APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN

Type of Mark SERVICE MARK

Register PRINCIPAL

Live/Dead Indicator LIVE


Yes. In the US and Europe I believe.


They will have had it automatically.


You are thinking of copyright. Trademarks are not automatic.


>'The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a trademark as a "word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof," used to identify and distinguish a company's goods. A service mark is essentially the same thing but pertains to services rather than goods. Your mark (either trademark or service mark) is legally protected through common law once it goes into commercial use, but sometimes it makes sense to register your mark.'

https://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/intellectual-property/trad...


This is an argument similar to "China is odd for using the metric system; to prove it here is the US using Imperial"

> Let’s start with how the U.S. is different from other countries. In the U.S., just using a brand in commerce will grant you some legal rights over the brand. Many jurisdictions, however, are “first-to-file” countries. That means whoever registers a trademark first – regardless of whether they’re using it – is the owner of the mark. For example, both China and Japan are “first-to-file” countries.

https://thestartuplawblog.com/trademarks-file-outside-u-s/


Given I was ultimately writing in answer to;

>'Did the non Chinese have any trademarks? Anywhere?'

May I take this opportunity to say; 'Huh?'


Common law trademark rights are automatic. Registration is just a stronger claim with more rights to damages. In fact to get a registered mark you must first use it in commerce as a common law mark.


Trademarks are automatic once you make your first sale.


I don't know why this is discussed on reddit and not in court, tbh.


Why some Americans all naturally consider the whole world should and will follow US law...

And if not, they need to change their law as the US told. Kind of supercilious, isn't it?


In fairness mobile / idle / clicker game is one the dodgiest genres. All your dev peers are gonna be money grubbing philistines. I dont know of any great game-makers striving to make such a game for its artistic merit / innovation or its contribution to the medium.


The makers of this game have said how much they despise the money grabbing tactics commonly used. The sequel has a retail price of $40 AUD and doesn't contain ANY pay to win.


You are in loss of $200 to $300 a day? if that's just a loss what's your revenue? It must be very good unless I am missing something here.

YOU SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN YOUR TRADEMARK first. You invented the game, hard worked and put it out there FIRST.

I dont think getting a Trademark would have cost you fortune.


First to file is reasonable. Chinese trademark costs like $200

Geez, give it a break. Huge biz screw up, but just release under a different name.


That's not the issue here. The problem is their app was removed internationally instead of just in China, and they are having trouble appealing it.


No it’s not the issue. That’s just a communication problem. Apple has a basic appeal process.


I don't understand the outrage. just because it's China? the same thing can happen in any country, especially in the US. some random company can trademark your game name. you don't like it? fight it in court? don't have money for court? too bad. nothing new here. and if now your game infringes an american trademark you can be 100% sure apple will pull the game worldwide.


Wait, they targeted China, released in China, made money in China, but didn't register trademarks in China? I'm sorry, when in Rome.... If they were going so heavy into China, they should have researched Chinese trademark law. Why does the naive entrepreneur get to play the victim here? Yeah, China has bad optics, but this situation was avoidable. The buck should always stop with the entrepreneur, no?

edit: As I've written below: Right in the reddit post, he writes they were marketing it as 点击英雄 in 2014 on a Chinese website. It does look like they were targeting China. There is nothing on that post to indicate otherwise. If I am missing something, let me know. I'm going based off of what I read in the Reddit post.

What is likely happening here is that a peon at Apple is acting as a finite state machine in a faulty process without thinking. Marketing it as 点击英雄 would make that easy. Hopefully, Apple gets this right for the rest of the world and reverses their decision, but I mean... it's marketed as 点击英雄! In China! On a Chinese website!


They didn't target China at all. They were resigned to the fact that it would be immediately cloned in that market so they never bothered.

The details are readily available in the linked thread but the gist of it is that most of the world operates on a "first to use" basis to prove trademark ownership while China uses a "first to file" basis.

Apple is tacitly saying that the Chinese system takes precedence. Even in the US. It's absurd.


Right in the reddit post, he writes they were marketing it as 点击英雄 in 2014 on a Chinese website. It does look like they were targeting China. There is nothing on that post to indicate otherwise. It does not sound like they were resigned to the fact that it would be immediately cloned. If I am missing something, let me know. I'm going based off of what I read in the Reddit post.


I think you missed this.

>The purpose of trademarks is to have exclusive rights to a name, which is expensive to get worldwide and we don't really care about that - I have learned to fully expect China to copy all our shit and do what they want with our stuff.

>But they should NOT be allowed to force Apple to take down our stuff by abusing their trademark, and I really wish Apple could see what they were doing this because it's plain as day if you look at the evidence I provided.

They obviously had no illusions about the Chinese market.

At any rate, it's a red herring. They don't care that their IP has been stolen in China. They care that it has been stolen internationally (including the countries they did properly register in).

I don't think that you can fairly say anyone is "playing the victim" here. It just sounds like you're being cruel for the sake of it. After having had many years of work stolen right from under you, you'd be pissed too.

Quotes from https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/bs6n3l/apple_remov...


It seems to me that they targeted China, just didn't understand trademarks work there.


"not targeting China at all" may be overstating things, but "going so heavy into China" sounds like an exaggeration too.

You can be resigned to the fact that your app will be immediately cloned, and yet still think it worthwhile to spend a bit of money on having it localized enough that Chinese customers might find it compelling. I hear there are a lot of people in China. If you can have the job done cost-effectively, no reason not to try to capture at least some of the market. If people will buy clones, maybe they'll buy the original too.


Oh come on, make a quick buck and then take the moral high ground to deal with your ignorance on IP laws when your predicted inevitable outcome happens? :) That's way disingenuous. It makes much more sense for them to have thought IP laws there worked like IP laws at home. In fact, they do in effect say that they thought that in the Reddit post.


Your assumption is the same as mine: they didn’t think China’s IP rules worked differently.


I don't know if simply translating your game to another language is "targeting" that market.


Why would one translate it other than to sell in that market?


There are tens (perhaps hundreds?) of millions of Chinese speakers outside China.


Are you suggesting that they had it translated specifically for that segment of the Chinese-language market, while explicitly deciding to stay away from China itself? That seems to be empirically false. The failure to seek trademark protection in China is not evidence for that intent, as it was apparently a result of a mistaken assumption.


They support almost 15 languages. I seriously doubt they are "targeting" all of those markets, it's more likely some fans of the game contributed translations.


That might be so for some languages, but with regard to China specifically (which is the issue here), they say "We can re-name it in China, yeah. With a ton of effort changing all of the artwork we created with the old name." It looks like targeting to me.


You don't really need to research Chinese IP law, as they're signed up to the WIPO Madrid system for international trademark filing.

https://www.wipo.int/madrid/en/

But instead of blaming the dev for missing a filing in China, why the hell is Apple taking down the app worldwide if it only violates IP law in China.


How quickly would a foreign application for IP project get through a Chinese court? Would it matter in the end if it did?


According to this page I googled, about 9 - 12 months from filing. And not via a court.

https://www.ip-coster.com/IPGuides/trademark-china


>Why does the naive entrepreneur get to play the victim here?

Now I dunno, this might be a bit of a stretch, but it might perhaps just be because they are in actual fact, quite clearly, the victim here.


The app was taken down worldwide, not in Rome.


Well, also in Rome :P



I know the term, I was just extending your use of it.


But we're not in Rome. We're on earth. So the saying goes: "When on earth do as the Chinese do".


I never liked that phrase. Which Romans in particular? Rome was complicated as hell and regularly ruled by unpredictable incestuous madmen.

I'd rather not do as the Romans do, whilst in Rome, lest they mistake me for a Roman and I end up dead in some strange political intrigue, possibly featuring a drunken goat.


Yeah but if you act differently you might end up entertainment...




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