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Activision ordered to return Scratch DJ

Court rules against DJ Hero publisher.

A US judge has ordered Activision to return the source code for Scratch: The Ultimate DJ to Genius Products.

Genius filed suit after Activision - which is making its own DJ Hero game - quietly bought Scratch developer 7 Studios, claiming to GamesIndustry.biz the move was "clearly an attempt to prevent the game from getting to market ahead of its own prospective game" and "misappropriation of trade secrets".

Activision announced earlier this week that the court had found "no evidence of any wrongdoing" by the publisher, and therefore seen no reason to grant a restraining order.

A recently-published transcript of the hearing proves this, although the facts were slightly skewed: Activision has done no wrong, but new-purchase 7 Studios has, resulting in more-or-less the same outcome.

"It is actually very straightforward," Judge James C. Chalfant told Activision lawyers (reported by GameSpot). "They [Genius] hired you [7 Studios]. They have terminated the deal. Their agreement requires return of materials.

"No matter how you slice this banana, they are entitled to the work product back. I don't know why your client would want to continue working on a project for which they have been terminated."

Judge Chalfant ordered Activision to turn over the source code yesterday, and told the persistent lawyers they could try to argue otherwise in another hearing scheduled for 6th May.

"I can't under any circumstance think why you would be entitled to keep the source code," concluded Judge Chalfant. "Show me anywhere where you can refuse to turn over source code because it incorporates your pre-existing tools and technology.

"They [Genius] can use it for any purpose. It is theirs. It belongs to them. They paid USD 6 million for it. I'm done."

Genius will go on to "aggressively pursue" its claims for damages resulting from Activision's behaviour.

Scratch: The Ultimate DJ - for PS3 and Xbox 360 - is tentatively scheduled for release this year. There are videos and screenshots on the Scratch: The Ultimate DJ gamepage.

DJ Hero was revealed by Activision in January this year and will be developed by FreeStyle Games. Platforms haven't been confirmed, but logos for Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation feature on the DJ Hero website. The game is due out later this year.

Both musical games will come with a turntable peripheral.