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Data East USA v. Epyx, Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
862 F.2d 204 (1988)
Data East USA, Inc. (Data East) (plaintiff) owned audio-visual copyrights in arcade and home versions of a video game called Karate Champ. Epyx, Inc. (defendant) had a license to distribute a home-computer game called World Karate Championship. Data East alleged that the appearance, compilation, and audio-visual sequencing of World Karate Championship infringed Data East’s copyrights in Karate Champ. There was no direct evidence that the developers of World Karate Championship copied Karate Champ. Each game consisted of an audio-visual depiction of a karate match between two combatants, one wearing a white uniform and the other wearing red. The matches were supervised by a referee who announced a winner at the end of the match by means of a cartoon speech bubble. The moves used by the combatants and the methods of scoring were also similar. Each game had a bonus round in which combatants could break and dodge objects. The backgrounds, on the other hand, were quite dissimilar. The district court found that Epyx’s game infringed Data East’s copyright, and Epyx appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Trott, J.)
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