I recently received an email from someone at Blue Orange Games, the makers of Gobblet. If you didn’t know, StackEm is inspired by Gobblet. My cousin and I used to play Gobblet all the time. We carried the board game around with us where-ever we went. Typical games were much shorter than chess and didn’t involve quite as much intensity but it did involve some thought and strategy that made for quick and fun games.
I developed StackEm as an experiment to learn Cocos2d and game programming for the iPhone/iPad and so we didn’t have to carry around the wooden board and fumble with pieces anymore.
Anyway, this email said:
As you may know, we are the makers of the games Gobblet and it was quite a surprise to see an app inspired by it!
We are currently thinking on coming up with a “Gobblet” app and thought that you might be interested working on it with us.
Man was I ecstatic. The board game that I loved wanted me to work on an official version of the game! I was stoked. Little old me, a hobbyist developer and my first game, and they want me to work on the real thing. This is like making a star wars animation and George Lucas wanting you to work on the next Star Wars film.
So emails between me and this guy get stalled for various reasons but we go back and forth a little bit. I tell him I would love to help with an official Gobblet app.
Then I get an email from Thierry Denoual, the creator of Gobblet and the president of Blue Orange Games. His take is a little different. He makes it clear that Gobblet Game principles are portected by a utility patent, US 6394455 B1 since 2002.
I am the creator of Gobblet and the president of Blue Orange Games.
First of all, I would like to tell you that the Gobblet Game principles are protected by an utility patent : US 6394455 B1 since 2002.
In theory, you should not be able to use that game principle without my authorization, especially if you are using it in trade.
Right now, we are looking into developping an official application for Gobblet and also for Gobblet Junior (3×3) on smart phones.
How can you help us ? How can we legalized this situation without entering into legal procedures ?
I’m a hobbyist developer, I can’t afford lawyers to look into this and see if I have to follow the patent or not. It seems to me that the patent is very clear that it is in fact for a board game. I’m not sure if that applies to digital works or not. I don’t know the legalities between things like “Words with friends” and “Scrabble”.
And since I felt threatened by the email, I didn’t really want a working relationship with them either. I thought it best to pull StackEm from the app store and wish Blue Orange the best of luck on creating the app. I will probably even buy a copy because I like the game that much, now I’m just not sure if I like the creator all that much but I’m sure he doesn’t care about some hobbyist developer.