Who owns Coyote Moon?
If the slot game is played online, only Illinois slot technology maker GC2, and not Nevada-based International Game Technology. Or so says GC2.
The Chicago company is suing IGT for allegedly using copyrighted art and graphics from several GC2 games without permission for online play. The case was argued in a U.S. district court in Illinois this week.
According to the lawsuit, GC2 entered an operating agreement with an IGT subsidiary in 2003, amending it several times through their relationship. Under the final agreement, IGT gained the exclusive right and license to distribute any number of GC2’s projects in the future, but only on physical gaming machines.
Internet gaming was expressly excluded from the license agreement, according to the lawsuit.
“GC2 developed many of Defendant IGT’s best-selling video slot machine games. Defendant IGT became one of the world’s leading manufacturers and distributors of video reel slot machine games in part as a result of obtaining rights to license, sell and distribute GC2’s games,” reads the lawsuit.
Pharaoh’s Fortune, Coyote Moon, King Pin Bowling, Lucky Lion Fish, Festival Fantastico, Wild Goose Chase and Kitty Glitter are among the GC2 copyrighted works in IGT’s possession.
The lawsuit claims IGT took video slot machine artwork and 2d graphics from GC2’s most successful works, such as “Pharaoh’s Fortune” and “Coyote Moon,” and offered them through its former subsidiary, DoubleDown Interactive LLC, whose gaming software can be accessed and played through platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Android and GooglePlay.
Games like “Pharaoh’s Fortune” and “Coyote Moon” were then distributed without GC2’s permission or copyright logo, according to the lawsuit.
The case has been ongoing since 2016 and in mid-November of last year, the court granted part of GC2’s motion
“There appears to be at least some evidence that GC2 provided its logo along with the glass artwork and that IGT NV made modifications to the artwork and took off GC2’s logo,” wrote the judge in an opinion referring to “Pharaoh’s Fortune” and “Coyote Moon.”
In respect to other games, such as “Kitty Glitter,” the court agreed that both parties’ games had images of cats, but that the similarities ended there.
“The cats in IGT’s game look nothing like those in GC2’s images. The GC2 cats are shown as full bodies, in active or playful poses,” wrote the judge, whereas the cats in IGT’s game were realistic, static images, consisting only of headshots, with cats wearing “dour and serious” expressions.
According to the lawsuit, an IGT executive contacted GC2’s CEO via email in 2016 after the games had been released, saying that IGT came across a list of games they realized they “did not have all rights and wanted to explore getting them. Upon further review, we have realized that somehow this gap in rights slipped through the cracks and these games were brought to interactive.”
IGT’s lawyer told the jury during his opening this week that IGT paid GC2 $5.9 million for all of the copyrights at issue, and if any copyright infringements are found, it would only be “a handful at most,” according to the legal news site Law360.
GC2 is asking the jury to award damages in the amount of profits IGT made while using the allegedly infringing games. It is also asking that IGT be ordered to take the games down and make them unavailable for online play.
As “a relatively smaller company” GC2 said they were “especially harmed” by IGT failure to obtain licensing as it depends on “cash flow from licenses for use of its intellectual properties in order to continue its development without incurring additional debt and interest obligations.”