The developer behind iPhone smash Doodle Jump is claiming exclusive App Store rights to the 'doodle' prefix and demanding similarly titled apps change their names.
According to 148Apps, Lima Sky has issued warnings through Apple to developers of titles such as Doodle Hockey and Doodle Monster that they're in violation of its intellectual property rights.
Lima Sky boss Igor Pusenjak explained the move to PocketGamer, insisting, "We are required by USPTO [US Patent and Trademark Office] to monitor and police our trademarks. If we don't, we lose them."
However, Lima Sky does not currently own a trademark on the word 'doodle', only on 'Doodle Jump' and a "design only" trademark on the game's main character, The Doodler.
It had a trademark request on the word 'doodle' turned down and there were a number of apps available pre-Doodle Jump featuring the word in their title.
However, with the backing of Apple, it seems many developers feel like they have no choice but to concede.
"We can't really debate it," said Doodle Monster developer Robots Vs. Wizards. "In the Apple world they can pull your app from just mere implication. There is no proving right or wrong."
Bryan Duke of Acceleroto, developer of Doodle Hockey, went into further detail on the Touch Arcade forums, insisting the action was without legal foundation.
"It's my impression that Igor is starting to chase out the 'small guys' first. The big houses aren't afraid of him. One of them even used the word 'absurd' to describe what he's doing," he claimed.
"It's easy for someone to scare 'small guys' out of business with legal threats. It's my guess that Lima Sky's intent here is to get as much momentum as they can with hopes of kicking all of the doodle-named apps out of the App Store.
"Every lawyer I've spoken with thinks Igor doesn't have a leg to stand on here," he added. "There are piles & piles of examples of trademarks like this coexisting. (I know you guys have heard of Star Wars & Star Trek, right?)"
He then issued a call to arms, demanding small developers stick up for themselves.
"Here's the deal. Everyone with an app containing the word 'doodle' in the title needs to stand up to Lima Sky's threats. If we let him attack each of us one by one and allow him to roll over us, well, that would be bad."
"If we all stand together on this, the little guy won't be so little. I'm fighting this. You should too."
Doodle Jump hit the App Store in April 2009 and then Android devices in March last year. As of April 2010, it had been downloaded four million times.