I see lots of folks, including the Ozimals owner, presenting what is probably accurate facts, like the post mentioning that an “Amaretto dev” spoke with Ozimals, trying to get along, then was told it was too similar.  Okay, that shows both sides tried to avoid a fight.  But it’s the conclusions that seem all wrong to me.   None of these so-called facts are even relevant.  They aren’t legal facts.  They are attempts to sway public opinion, and they will  not last 5 minutes in court.  It’s full of comments like this:

We communicated our concerns and rights in June and attempted to very politely inform Amaretto that they must develop their own concept so that any problems could be avoided.

Ozimals effectively told Amaretto that their product was too similar a copy, perhaps even a clone, functionally.  That Ozimals would not allow this.  The idea isn’t new.  There were lots of breedable animals prior to Ozimals.  But they called it “unlawful” and that the reason they were doing this was “to help establish a safer environment for great ideas to flourish in Second Life.”
And in fact, they then proceeded to halt it legally via a DCMA complaint to LL, which would cause massive trouble not only for for Amaretto but also for their entire customer base, as Amaretto horses would be forcibly removed by Linden Lab.

On what basis?  My understanding — and we’re all being armchair lawyers here — but is Ozimals trying to say that they hold a copyright on the concept?  This concept has been around a long time.  Concepts and ideas are covered by patents.  So which patent is it that Ozimals has that prevents a clone?

it was immediately obvious that the current state of the Amaretto horse product was a near complete clone of the Ozimals concept of a breedable

It seems to me that Amaretto pretty much readily admits that they made a breedable horse directly based on the concepts, rules, “gameplay” and terms used by Ozimals in the bunnies.  But if I was developing breedable horses, I would have done exactly the same thing.  It’s what people are familiar with.  To be user-friendly, try to stay consistent with the competition, while doing what they do better.  It’s important that key concepts remain the same, menu buttons consistent with other products, etc. 

If reverse-engineering and cloning a software product (and that seems to be what the Ozimals complaint is all about) is covered by copyright, I’ll eat my shorts.  Farmville would not exist (it was a clone, that was just marketed better).  The CEO of Farmville’s creator, Zynga, reportedly said:

“I don’t fucking want innovation,” the ex-employee recalls Pincus saying. “You’re not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers.”

Also from that report comes the following paragraph:

None allege that Zynga knowingly broke laws. Although the company has been sued for copyright infringement, stealing concepts for games is not in itself illegal.

Ozimals, you do not own the concept of breedable animals.  The DCMA complaint is an abuse of the process.  The Amaretto horses don’t show a lot of innovation, but that is not a copyright issue.

To the Ozimals owners: get out of this case while you can because your lawyers are going to suck you dry and you will end up paying for the Amaretto defense as well.  If they stole textures, or the actual scripts, you’d have a case.  If they made their horses look like your bunnies, you might have a case.

The DCMA system is there for when someone comes in and copy-bots your objects, your scripts, your layers.  My understanding is that the Amaretto product was independently developed, and it really doesn’t matter if they looked at Ozimals very closely or not.  Cloning your product isn’t an issue.  You need to keep innovating and use your existing market lead to continue to differentiate and dominate… or fall behind.

There’s a hoooge difference between something you don’t like, and something that crosses a legal line.  This is a marketing challenge to you, Ozimals.  Whether Amaretto is around next year or not is irrelevant.  Even if I was completely wrong and this case could be won, others will show up to the market as well.

Ozimals, step up and meet this marketing challenge outside the courtroom, with innovation, marketing and customer demand, or face extinction.