Sonic's Jewels 7 pulled due to use of Sonic the Hedgehog

Just yesterday, we covered the Marketplace disappearance of an enthusiast's Sega Genesis Sega Gamegear/Sega Master System emulator titled Sonic's Jewels 7. But after getting in touch with the developer, we have new information and insight into what went down.

The author received an email from Microsoft on Feburary 9, 2012 entitled: "Mobile Application Content Infringement Complaint - Sonic's Jewels", trimmed for brevity.

This message is to notify you that Microsoft has received a Content Infringement Complaint (“Complaint”) for your application Sonic's Jewels. A copy of the Complaint is attached for your review.Immediate RequestPlease disable access to the application from the Marketplace within one business day.  If your application is still available for download within this timeframe, Microsoft may remove the application.  Please note that under certain circumstances Microsoft may disable your app immediately without providing you the opportunity to disable it.[...]

Also in the email were two boilerplate options -- either file a DMCA Counter-Notice alleging the take down of the application was in error or actually remove the materials in the complaint. Obviously, the developer pulled the app.

In the attached complaint, filed February 8, 2012, Sega noted (emphasis ours):

Please provide a name (if available) and a description of the work for which you claim intellectual property ownership: The name of the work is the Genesis, a Sega console that was built and sold in the 1990's. Sega has trademarked the term Genesis (on June 9, 1992) and all the hardware that was part of this project. Sega also owns the copyright and IP for Sonic the Hedgehog, one of the game mascots featured on the system.Please provide a name of the other content (if available) and a description of what you claim is infringing about the other content: This title is called "Sonic Jewels" and it is a Genesis emulator for Windows Phone that was not built by Sega or authorized in any way. The emulator uses images of Sonic the Hedgehog that are used illegally.URL: about the use of a name or logo must be accompanied by a copy of the trademark application or registration. We cannot act on any complaint related to a name or logo without a copy of the trademark application or registration. Check this box if the trademark application or registration is included with this complaint: [x]

As we suspected, Sega didn't like the use of the Sonic the Hedgehog imagery throughout the application. Before you arm the neighborhood with molotovs and pitchforks, let's pause and reflect. Our coin ring-loving blue pal belongs to Sega. The complaint here is completely fair. What troubles us, however, is how odd the Windows Phone Marketplace folks operate. For example, the complaint includes trademark registration/application paperwork but only for the mark Genesis. Not the actual trademark in question (Sonic the Hedgehog). Yet the complaint went through with record speed. Also, the complaint form is oddly bare and consists of a single page, unlike the 6-page monstrosity we had to fill out in the Dudley saga.

At any rate, we're working with the developer directly, helping him get through the scary-sounding Marketplace paperwork and procedures. We expect a quick turn around on this one, so stay tuned.

Rafael Rivera
  • Oh, So it's your fault ? Hehe. I know you just review what's new so I am not blaiming you, it was just a matter of time before they found it.
    So, I guess a rename is in order, funny how they put in a claim before even knowing what it was (they show a Genesis, when it is a master system emulator).
    I hope when they rename it, I dont have to re-buy it....
  • That's really sloppy from both Sega and the policy team, how Sonic's Jewels could be removed for being a Genesis emulator is just stupid. For the IP usage of Sonic sure, but there was no paperwork for it :s. I guess Microsoft are fast to fold when it comes to dealing with big companies and even faster to ignore it when it comes from normal people.
  • Well when you look at it from Microsoft's point of view, they have a lot more to lose from the big-time developer getting upset, than a regular developer.  That shouldn't make the developer any less important, however.  There is always room for improvement.
  • Hey its their ip they have every right.... lame I guess
  • Sega Genesis emulator?
    Sonic's Jewels only emulated the Sega Master System and the Sega GameGear. The Genesis is an entierly different generation of console :-/
  • +1
  • +2
  • So are they claiming emulating hardware is illegal? I think it is but have been told otherwise, here, not so.
  • It is true that emulation is legal. What is not legal, however, is the sharing/using of ROMs. People seem to be getting the two confused quite a bit.
  • Not legal depending on your legal jurisdiction. In the netherlands the use of ROMs is completely legal. And don't forget about a thing called abandonware. Although the trademarks stay with the IP owner, the software may distributed freely aslong the software isn't actively sold and supported by the IP owner.
  • Good point.
    In some places, ROMs are legal -- but I assume because this emulator was pulled by Sega of America, that the issue is based on US laws. :/
  • I do hope you're right about  the quick turn around and it gets released again.  This app is a model for how to make an emulator for WP.
    I also hope that after this is settled, the developer will release his Gamboy emulator to the marketplace as well.  I'd pay for it.
  • I thought Sonic was a ring-loving hedgehog. Not a "coin-loving" one.
    Sonic's Jewels was NOT a Genesis emulator! It was Master System and GameGear only. Which makes Sega's complaint a little silly.
    Secondly, Sonic is a RING-loving hedgehog, not a coin-loving one. Unless you're making a reference to Sonic for Hire, which I assume most WPCentral users won't get. :P
    Also worth noting is that I foolishly reset my phone and can no longer download this emulator, even though I've already paid for it. Does that seem absurd to anyone else? Anyway, thanks WPCentral for bringing this to public light AND getting it back on track for release!
  • Are emulators allowed on iTunes ( on Android, most likely, since they're a bit anarchic ). Thing is, MS will be wanting to piss Sega? If so, will Sega (and maybe others) retaliate and don't publish on WP? I'm not sure if I like that route, I mean there are Androids for that funky businesses... but that's just my opinion...
  • Hmmm, that's totally not why I meant. Guess my English is not very good...
  • Don't worry, I understood what you meant. :)
  • I don't see why the developer thought they could make money off another persons work.
    Though this is assuming the emulator only ran a game that already existed. Emulators aren't illegal but selling a copyrighted rom sure is.
  • Yeah, the guy only made the emulator, he didn't include any ROMs or links to them.
  • Read the article?
  • So take all Sega related images and words out and call it Gen7sis or something to that effect
  • Good idea, except that it wasn't a Genesis emulator. Some wires got crossed somewhere. Sonic's Jewels is a Master System and GameGear emulator.
  • I saw this coming. It shouldn't be a big deal, though. It mainly involved the use of Sonic. Hopefully the app will be back on its feet soon, albeit slightly differently named.
  • I think it's luck as to whether the TM infringements get reported by the owners on WP7 - I think the platform is mostly ignored (there's probably a good 20% of apps on marketplace right now which breech these).
    I had a bad experience with this a couple of weeks ago. I released a game called 'mobilewares jumble!'- and 1 week after it was launched I received a 24hr infringement/comply notice via marketplace. Apparently the word 'jumble' had been trademarked back in 2003 (for use in relation with a mobile game)- and even though my game was completely different to the TM owner's products (I'd never heard of them before receiving this - so of course there was no resemblance at all) - I had to comply or pay expensive legal fees to defend it. I never thought to even check the TM registry for this either because where I'm from (Australia) you can't TM any common word from the english language (nor anyone's surname). I had to delist the product for 1.5 weeks while I waited for response from MS legal - and it killed the products ranking. (it's now re-released as jumbla! )
    I was pretty disappointed the TM owners couldn't just contact me directly (would have been happy to sort it out - had never intended to use anyones TM) - and would have saved all the drama/delisting.  I also noted about 15 other apps also using this TM but for some reason not a single one of them appears to have complied (assume they just didn't get sent infringements - still unclear why I was singled out).
    Anyhow - I don't disagree with any TM owner from wanting to protect their marks - but think it should be handled evenly for everyone - and done in a way which doesn't kill the developers product (particularly when no malice was intended).
  • Being able to TM words like 'Jumble' and the US patent system go hand in hand really with how ridicules the legal system can get. Bottom line though is that he infringed a TM (on the hedgehog at least) and has to pay the price.
  • I screwed up guys, thought it did Genesis emulation too. Shame on me. I fixed the post to reflect this.
  • If anyone here know what Sega fanboys are truly like then this shouldn't surprise them either. Sega fanboys are some of the most obsessively rabid people I've ever known when it comes to company loyalty, so I wouldn't put it past their community to have complained about this rather than Sega themselves, with all the rushed mistakes included.
  • No big surprise..
    What WAS a surprise was to see WP so openly publishing an article about using a widely recognizable trade marked character....