Buying the “Fairy Farm”

Squabbling Russian and Belarussian video game developers may need a dose of the meditative gardens they had worked together to build in the “Fairy Farm” game distributed through Apple’s AppStore.  But creative differences prompted a split and sowed the seeds of a legal dispute that landed in San Francisco federal court.

The Moscow-based game maker, South Port Studios, and its Cyprus-based licensee, Startek Invest, have sued a Belarussian computer firm for alleged copyright violation, breach of contract and interference with business advantage in a fight over proceeds for the “Fairy Farm” game.

The game is designed for use on iPods, iPhones and iPads, allowing players to build their own meditative gardens.

The defendant, TelesoftService, is known as Bubbler Media.  The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer.

 South Port contracted with Bubbler Media to create code for the game, according to the complaint.  But the suit alleges Bubbler essentially stopped work on the project in February over conflicts between the two companies.  The Startek programmers were going to be paid out of royalties from sales so they pressed on. They allegedly wrote their own code so the game would run more smoothly.

Bubbler agreed to release its claim to “Fairy Farm” and give South Port and Startek worldwide rights for $40,000, the complaint says.  But a month after the August release of the game Bubbler Media told Apple it had copyright claims.

Startek alleges that Bubbler had entered into a settlement of its claims prior to the game’s release and that the issue was cleared up with Apple, allowing game sales to proceed.

But Bubbler persisted with infringement claims in a September claim with the U.S. Copyright Office, despite proof of a $40,000 payment for the rights to the software, according to the suit.

San Francisco attorney Shannon Gallagher has asked the federal court to award damages against Bubbler for alleged infringement, breach of contract and intentional interference with business advantage.

Case:  Startek Invest Ltd. V. TelesoftService,  No. C11-5665CRB

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