Attack of the Clones
Zynga has been involved in an ongoing legal battle with Vostu, the king of social gaming in Brazil, which also has a big office here in New York. Zynga sued Vostu for copying it games, to which Vostu responded that Zynga had made its entire business off of copying people’s games. Touché.
With Zynga gearing up for an IPO, it was probably in everyone’s interest to get this settled and keep any doubts from investors minds. The company’s sent Betabeat a joint statement, “Zynga and Vostu have settled the copyright lawsuits and counterclaims against each other in the United States and Brazil. As part of the settlement, Vostu made a monetary payment to Zynga and made some changes to four of its games. The parties are pleased to have settled their disputes and to now put these matters behind them.”
The startup world is rife with clones and copycats, fueled by the ease of opening up shop on the web. You can find ads on Craigslist shopping for scripts to rip off entire sites. But typically it’s the small fry who are aping the success of their larger, more established rivals.
So the folks at New York based Paperless Post were a little taken aback when they saw Postmark, a new offering from Evite, which looked to them like a total clone of their product.
To make their case, Paperless Post laid out for Betabeat the nitty gritty details of the overlap between Postmark and their service. To them, it copied the user experience and design assets, right down to individual cards. Everything had an eerie familiarity, from the pricing scheme to the name.
“We kind of stumbled on it while redesigning our logo,” said Alexa Hirschfeld, who founded the site with her brother James. “We were checking out the competitors and when we got to Evite’s postmark we had one of those moments, it was actually confusing, looking at it and then at our site, realizing we had been cloned.”
A complete ripoff of Turntable.fm called Rolling.fm has emerged that would make Chinese copycats proud. Because the firm has the distinction of being founded by one Tim Zhou, who used to work at Google, the tech press has gone gaga for it. Gaga, meanwhile, has apparently chosen to put her funds into the original.
“Hot on the heels of Turntable.fm’s big reported round of funding comes Rolling.fm, a clone that does just about everything the original service does. Will it achieve the same popularity? Who knows, but we’re impressed that someone has already launched such a complete knock-off of the Turntable.fm concept,” writes a breathless Eliot Van Buskirk, a former Wired writer who left for music start-up Evolver.fm but continues to contribute pieces of reportage.