Who Really Owns the Fairy Farm?

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A Russian video game developer and its Cyprus-based licensee claim a Belarussian computer programming company is illegally claiming credit for the “Fairy Farm” game, which is distributed through Apple’s AppStore. The international squabble is over profits from a game in which users build “their own beautiful, meditative gardens.”
     Startek Invest, the Cypriot licensee of Moscow-based South Port Studios, sued TelesoftService dba Bubbler Media, in Federal Court.
     The far-flung companies are at odds over ownership and programming codes used in South Port’s “Fairy Farm” app, for iPods, iPhones and iPads.
     According to the complaint, Startek and South Port contracted with Bubbler Media to write code for the game, in which users build “their own beautiful, meditative gardens.”
     But Startek says relations soured during the creative process, and the companies parted ways before completing the game. South Port’s programmers ditched Bubbler Media’s code and wrote their own so the game would run more smoothly, according to the complaint.
     Startek claims that during negotiations for the severing of relations, Bubbler Media agreed to release all of its claims to “Fairy Farm” and granted South Port and Startek worldwide rights in exchange for $40,000.
     Startek released the app to Apple’s AppStore in August.
     Bubbler Media contacted Apple in September, claiming copyright infringement.
     But Startek claims that Bubbler Media had promised in the settlement agreement “‘not to file claim to the right to use the project: ‘Social Game Volshebnaya Ferma’ (program code, graphics materials, or any other materials related to the project) on the condition of payment of US $40,000 from Dmitri Fedorovich Redlich.’ Proof that the U.S. $50,000.00 was paid was also provided.”
     (Fairy Farm is known as Volshebnaya Ferma in Russia.)
     Startek claims Bubbler Media violated the agreement by registering a copyright claim on Sept. 22 this year with the U.S. Copyright Office, “assert(ing) it was the sole author of ‘Magic Farm,’ a ‘computer program’ first published in 2011.”
     Startek claims that South Port owns the “Magic Farm” trademark, which “is another translation of Volshebnaya Ferma.
     Startek adds: “Bubbler Media’s actions are improper as it never was an author of ‘Volshebnaya Ferma,’ and certainly not of ‘Fairy Farm,’ a product completely devoid of any material created by Bubbler Media.”
     Startek and South Port seek punitive damages for copyright violation, breach of contract, and intentional interference.
     They are represented by Shannon Gallagher.

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