Activision Ordered to Return Scratch Source


Activision has been ordered to turn over the source code for Scratch: The Ultimate DJ after being sued by publisher Genius Products last week over allegations it was attempting to hinder development of the game in order to keep it from shipping on time and competing with Activision’s own upcoming game DJ Hero.

The short version goes like this: When Genius Products and Numark Industries, the company developing Scratch peripherals, rejected an offer by Activision to buy the game, Activision instead bought 7 Studios, the developer contracted to create it. The two companies allege that once it came under Activision’s control, 7 Studios began demanding new terms and more than twice the development fees to finish the game. Genius decided ask for the return of the IP so it could finish the game itself but 7 Studios was unwilling to hand over either the source code or the controller prototypes, leading to the lawsuit.

Activision, of course, claimed it had done nothing wrong and had actually bolstered the development of the game by providing necessary financing to 7 Studios. The Los Angeles Superior Court agreed, finding no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Activision; however, it did order 7 Studios to immediately return the source code for Scratch: The Ultimate DJ to Genius and also ordered a “wall-off” of sensitive information relating to the game, preventing the developer from disclosing the code or “trade secrets” to any other parties, including Activision.

“In addition to winning the requested injunctive relief, Scratch DJ Game LLC [the partnership between Genius and Numark] will aggressively pursue its court case against Activision, 7 Studios and [7 Studios CEO Lewis] Peterson for damages resulting from their actions to delay and take over the Scratch game,” the companies said in a statement to GamesIndustry. “Scratch DJ Game LLC contends it will prove that, only after venture partner Genius rejected multi-million dollar offers from Activision for Scratch: The Ultimate DJ Game, Activision then used information it obtained under a non-disclosure agreement with Genius to buy financially struggling contract developer 7 Studios in order to delay and control completion and release of Scratch, which is to compete with the DJ Hero game Activision has announced it has under development.”

“Scratch DJ Game LLC believes Activision’s actions with regard to Scratch were clearly an attempt to prevent the game from getting to market ahead of its own prospective game, DJ Hero, or to exact a lower price for the Scratch game after it took control of the contract developer working for its competitor,” the statement continued.

Both Scratch: The Ultimate DJ and DJ Hero are in development for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii. DJ Hero is slated for release by the end of 2009, while a release date for Scratch has yet to be announced.

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