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The Legal Issues Standing in the Way of a Flappy Bird Return

In one of the latest copyright issues to hit Apple, Flappy Bird's creator, Dong Nguyen, has been thinking about bringing back Flappy Bird - however, even if he wants to, copyright law and a clause in Apple's developer agreement might make that difficult to do. It wasn't until this week that Nguyen spoke with Rolling Stone about his desire to potentially bring the game back.


Two things currently stand in the way of Flappy Bird returning as a hit game, at least the version we're familiar with by Nguyen. There is a clause in the Apple developer agreement that reads, "If you delete your app, you can't restore it," and the name cannot be reused by the same organization. Their agreement states that, even with copyright claim, he cannot reuse Flappy Bird, and his ad revenue was forfeited.

Potential Dispute Over Copyright Issues
Another problem for Flappy Bird's resurrection is Mobile Media Partners, a different game developer. After Nguyen deleted his game on iOS, Mobile Media Partners snapped up the title. If Nguyen already has a trademark for the game, he could sue Mobile Media Partners so that they can't release a game under that name, however, the clause with Apple would still prevent him from using it, himself.

Flappy Bird was a viral app hit for Apple, quickly ramping up to $50,000 in daily revenue and taking the top spot for free games on the Google Play and iOS app stores. The game involved a difficult and addicting gameplay that many enjoyed. Several months ago, game developer Nguyen deleted the app, for reasons that remain unclear. Nguyen first claimed that the attention stressed him out - he then claimed that he was worried about people getting addicted. Some speculate that he was facing legal action for using art from other publishers.

Apple Not New to Controversy Regarding Copyright Issues
Apple, for its part, is no stranger to copyright controversy, and has made a name for itself as an aggressive enforcer of intellectual property interests. The company has been involved in multiple lawsuits alleging copyright violation from various competitors - they have argued for everything from the unique shape of their iPhone smartphone design, to code copying and distribution. They have also dealt with various "patent trolls" who attempt to sue the company under patent law without really having the legal grounds to do so, in hopes of receiving a settlement.

Have you had to hire copyright attorneys for any reason? Let us know in the comments.

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