Original Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen may have taken the game off of the market, but we may not have heard the last of it. Dong’s abandonment of the game is technically an abandonment of the trademark, according to several opportunistic entrepreneurs.
We’ve recently discovered new trademark filings from seven hopeful entities looking to become the new owners of Dong’s now-defunct IP, one of whom is already looking to act on the USPTO’s “intent of use” clause by reintroducing “Flappy Bird” as a mobile game:
- adore kv, Inc (February 9th)
- Neal Blaak and Alexander Prevoteau (February 9th)
- Mad Engine, Inc (February 10th)
- Mobile Media Partners doing business as Flappy Birds (February 10th)
- Gabriel Joseph Harkham via Drew Alia (February 12th)
- Olaes Enterprises, Inc (February 4th)
- Jamal Aminy (February 11th)
The owner who seems to believe they have the best shot is adore kv, who is doing business under the name OneClick Studios. They’re a three-man show based out of San Francisco who are actually pretty far along in bringing back the game that had everyone going crazy.
OneClick is joined by just one other applicant who filed for the “Flappy Bird” mark on February 9th, the other being a group comprised of Neal Blaak and Alexander Prevoteau. Both parties’ trademark applications cover the realm of mobile and computer gaming. They’re beat by only one other application — filed February 4th — but that particular applicant only filed for the rights to the name as it pertains to clothing, apparel and accessories.
What does all that mean? OneClick, which we’re told was formed just one week ago, seems to have a better chance at getting the go ahead on making a mobile Flappy Bird game (that is actually named Flappy Bird) than anyone else. It’ll all be a lot easier said than done, though.
Flappy Bird on the verge of a glorious return?
We were able to track down the owner of OneClick — Mark Li — and get his thoughts on why he believes his company will eventually be named the owners of the Flappy Bird trademark. According to him, their filing under USPTO section 1b (intent of use in commerce), plus early movement on trying to get their rendition of Flappy Bird into the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, gives them a pretty high chance of being awarded the mark over any of their competitors.
Yes, you read that right: OneClick already has their own version of Flappy Bird fully developed and ready to go. In fact, we’ve already played with it — you can find our quick hands-on video above.
There’s nothing amazingly new here that you haven’t already seen. Long story short? It’s Flappy Bird, except a bit more sharp, polished and fluid than even the original was. It’s in sharp contrast to the other quick-ditch clones we’ve seen flood Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store in the last couple of weeks, with most clones being embarrassingly choppy and nowhere near as enjoyable as the original.
OneClick’s version of Flappy Bird is one of the very few that breaks that stereotype. The Android version even implements Google Play Games services for tracking achievements and leaderboards. OneClick will look to monetize the game using ads, which will allow them to offer the game as a free download and potentially get tons of addicts back on board.
The game is on the verge of being launched, with only the approval processes by Google and Apple holding them back from going live. Unfortunately for them, though, that’s where things get a lot more tricky.
Shaky road back to the Play Store
In case you haven’t heard, Google and Apple seem to be blocking games with the word “Flappy” or “Flappy Bird” in their name on the grounds of trademark and/or intellectual property infringement, likely to refrain from confusing those who frequent the app marketplaces looking for Dong’s original game.
But with a fully functional trademark possibly waiting to be awarded to them, OneClick feels they should eventually be able to coast by the gates of both Apple and Google’s guards. Still, OneClick concedes that Apple and Google have final say in what goes into their own stores, so they are prepared to make the changes necessary to get the game approved should it come down to that (including potentially changing the name, which they fear would severely devalue the trademark). They’ve already prepared to appeal to both Apple and Google in the event that their game is shunned.
There are other areas of concern that deal directly with the trademark, too. What happens if Dong decides he wants back in? Well, he’d definitely have the ability to claim ownership of the trademark considering his game was the basis for all this madness. His potential return would throw a pretty nifty wrench into the plans of OneClick or anyone else hoping to hop on this train, though he doesn’t have nearly as much leverage as he would have had if he didn’t completely abandon the IP in the first place.
Still, it would be up to the USPTO and the courts to figure all of that out in legal proceedings that would be sure to follow any claim, meaning the future isn’t totally certain for OneClick from here on out.
What if it doesn’t work?
That’s one of the first questions we had when we came across all this, and OneClick was quite frank about it all — they’d like to make more games, if possible. Flappy Bird doesn’t have to be their end-all be-all cash cow, as even if they are awarded full rights to the trademark and granted entrance into Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, they would use the success to explore bigger and better things.
There is doubt surrounding OneClick’s future should this fail to pan out, however, as any further development on original titles would likely be fueled by the money they’re hoping this game will bring in. As simple as the game may be, OneClick says their name came from the principal that “a game does not have to be conceptually complex to be fun and successful.”
Long story short, they’re right. Flappy Bird is a very big deal, whether you’re sick of hearing about it or not. And as it stands, any success they hope to have does rest on the hinges of something as weak as a name change.
Money Making Clones: $100/hour
While none of the clones in the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store were making nearly as much as Dong Nguyen’s original, data from one developer shows that some were making money hand-over-first. One such scenario comes from Flatty Bird, whose developer revealed to Phandroid that the game was making over $100 per day at one point.
Matters took a turn for the worse when Google asked the developer to take the game down on grounds of copyright infringement, even after he’d changed the assets in the game to be completely original. Whether it was right for Google to claim copyright law for a game mechanic is another story on its own, but the real unfortunate news for the developer is that Flatty Bird is now only bringing in as little as $20 per day (which isn’t nearly enough to live on, last we checked).
It’s an unfortunate side effect of Google’s latest actions, but they’re really not concerned with morality issues when it comes to protecting people from infringement, as well as protecting the integrity of their store. We imagine OneClick Studios would be at an even greater disadvantage if Google ultimately decides to block them from the Play Store.
Where do you stand?
That OneClick Studios was formed on the back of a game they didn’t originally create doesn’t spell well for their future in the event that things don’t go as planned, but they wouldn’t be very good entrepreneurs if they didn’t at least try. You can bet our eyes will remain peeled in the days and weeks to come as OneClick looks to have both their game and trademark approved.
How do you feel about all of it? Would you be excited to see Flappy Bird make its return to the Google Play Store even if it isn’t Dong Nguyen’s original creation? Has the Flappy Bird phenomenon already run its course in your eyes? Do you even care? You can drop a poll in the vote below, and expand on your thoughts using the comments section where others are sure to congregate for some healthy discussion.