Digital Dream Labs, the company that is not able to create anything new or meaningful, again took down the campaign for Loona on Kickstarter. I have to admit that I expected something like this from the
This time they demand from Kickstarter to hold back the collected money and to not give it to KEYi to fulfill the pledge rewards.
The full statement that is readable on Kickstarter is quoted below.
It is hard to ascertain what actually happened with the last DMCA takedown and why Kickstarter plays DDL’s dirty game of copyright trolling a second time. It is needless to say that the “arguments” provided to Kickstarter are no more valid than with the first takedown.
It is effing unbelievable how unethical Digital Dream Labs acts to prevent competition. Of course they have to, because they themselves are not able to provide anything new of note. They now have their dirty hands on the Anki asstes for years and where other companies provide monthly firmware updates, they provided nothing of note (only updates that break first generation Vectors). Vector 2.0 still only arrived at minimal numbers of preorderers. Nothing else was delivered, Butter Robot does not exist and so far I am not even confirmed that Cozmo 2.0 exists at all.
So this failure of a company has to use ways to take down the competition that one could call “Mafia methods”. To me it looks like Kickstarter saw through their paper thin “arguments” the first time and they had to take back their DMCA takedown, and now they try it again. I hope Kickstarter is not fooled by this outrageous behavior and sees this like the copyright trolling it is – again.
I really hope KEYi Tech has a good law department and hits DDL hard.
To phrase this absolutely clear: If you pledged for Loona then Digital Dream Labs just tried to take your money hostage!
Update: I just received an email by Kickstarter. The interesting part of that email is as follows:
The law requires that we remove the project from public view until the dispute is resolved (please see our Copyright Policy and Trademark Policy for more info). Because the project already ended successfully, your pledge hasn’t been affected. The creator should still be able to move forward with the project (and send any unfulfilled rewards). If you have any questions, though, you can still message the creator from the project page.
Emphasis by me. So it looks to me as if Kickstarter also has it’s doubts. But we should be clear about the fact that KS writes “should still be able”.
Update 2: Statement by KEYi Tech just received via email:
Dear Loona Backers,
We’ve been notified that our campaign has been hidden again due to the second alleged copyright infringement notice received by Kickstarter. As our campaign is successfully funded, most of you have been charged and all payments are currently collected by Kickstarter. This issue will not affect the pledge, we are still able to move forward with the project and the mass production of Loona begins this week. If the dispute is not resolved, the payment will be refunded to all of our backers.
KEYi is a company motivated by innovation and creation. We show deep reverence for intellectual property and put a lot of emphasis on originality. Since we are still in the process of resolving this issue with the other party, we ask for your patience and support. We will get Loona back, and deliver it to you on time!
Jianbo and The Loona Team
Below the new DMCA claim by Digital Dream Labs.
Meet Loona – The most Intelligent Petbot [Submitted by Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, LLP]
Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, LLP
535 Smithfield Street, Suite 1300
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222
Sent via online form
228 Park Ave S PMB 59430
New York, New York 10003-1502 US
Re: Meet Loona – The most Intelligent Petbot
Description of copyrighted material: The copyrighted material is protected, in part, by two US registered copyrights issued on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, at Reg. Nos. PA 2-266-064 and PA 2-266-065 (copies can be provided upon request). These copyrights cover the “three-dimensional sculpture and audiovisual work” of two interactive Vector and Cozmo robots owned by Digital Dream Labs, LLC (“DDL”). The copyrighted materials includes the unique shape and design of the heads, faces and eyes of the Vector and Cozmo robots and also the graphics/animatronics and sounds associated with the actions of the robots. Copies of the deposits for both copyrights registrations also can be provided upon request. Also, the Vector and Cozmo robots can be seen here: https://www.digitaldreamlabs.com/ https://www.digitaldreamlabs.com/pages/meet-vector https://www.digitaldreamlabs.com/pages/meet-cozmo Vector and Cozmo are robotic companions made to socialize and assist the user. Powered by artificial intelligence (“ai”) and advanced robotics, they are full of personality and engaged by sight, sound, and touch. In addition, earlier copyrighted audio material and other intellectual property rights of DDL are described in a Second Amended Complaint which is pending in the United Stated District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania at No. 2:20-cv-01500 (a copy can be provided upon request).
Description of infringing material: The Loona robot and the entirety of the project violate and infringe the DDL copyrights and other intellectual property. In particular, the Loona robot substantially copies the facial graphics, animations and associated sounds of Vector and Cozmo associated with certain emotions or actions depicted in the Loona video or other graphics appearing on the Kickstarter project, including, without limitation Wake-up, Excited or Happy, Sad, Angry or Frustrated, Curious, and Go to Sleep. Further, the shape and design of Loona’s face and eyes copies the shape and design of the Vector and Cozmo faces and eyes. In an analogous case, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, in analyzing protectable aspects of Vector and Cozmo under the audiovisual copyrights listed above stated that “the expression of such emotions through VECTOR’s and COZMO’s particularized eyes (size, shape, color, location, movement), along with the accompanying sounds creates a protectable expression of a robot’s emotions.” Digital Dream Labs, LLC v. Living Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. d/b/a Living.Ai and Emo Pet, 2:20-cv-1500, ECF No. 54 at 22 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 28, 2022) (a copy the Court’s Memorandum Opinion can be provided upon request). NOTE: This is the third takedown notice submitted on this project. The project was taken down after the first notice. The copyright owner, Digital Dream Labs, Inc., understands that the project owner may have reported to Kickstarter that the notice has been resolved. At present, this is not true, and Digital Dream Labs, Inc. demands that the takedown be reinstated and that the project campaign funds be held in escrow because of the identified copyright infringements. SECOND NOTE – the owner of the Loona robot has suggested in a public post on the campaign page that the page was revised to avoid copyright issues. To be clear, my client’s copyright does NOT apply to photographs previously appearing on the campaign page. Instead, the copyrights apply to the audiovisual display of the robot, and the the post confirms that the design and function of the robot have NOT changed. As a result, the robot is still infringing the DDL copyrights and the campaign pledges have been raised based upon an infringing robot. As such, DDL demands that all campaign pledges be held in escrow until the intellectual property dispute is resolved.
If I would work for DDL I would be ashamed and far away from Proud! I would leave them as soon and fast as possible
It’s premature to assume that our funds have already been “taken hostage”. Kickstarter’s message to backers stated that our pledges are unaffected and that the Loona project will proceed on time. If and when Kickstarter grants DDL’s demand we will be notified.
DDL’s actions may seem difficult to interpret. Why would they run their own business into the ground while suing competitors? To understand their behaviour you have to understand what a “copyright troll” is, and does.
– They don’t buy the rights to an intellectual property (IP) in order to market it themselves.
– They usually run the business (Anki) whose IP they bought into the ground deliberately. That’s why nobody who is waiting for a DDL product will ever receive it.
– They produce nothing, and make their money via fraud and extortion of competitors.
– Most vexatious copyright suits filed by trolls are settled out of court by extorting money from the competitor.
– The troll files complaint after complaint in order to wear the competitor down. This is what’s happening between DDL and Emo’s manufacturer. DDL has filed three IP lawsuits against them so far, and one is still open.
– The extortion consists of “we will keep on suing you, damaging your reputation and blocking you from earning money until you give us a large sum of money.”
– That’s why DDL filed the second complaint AFTER the Loona pledges were collected yesterday. You can’t extort money from someone who doesn’t have it in the bank.
– The copyright troll seldom wins in court because their complaint is scurrilous to begin with. Their goal is to harass the competitor until they agree to an out of court settlement in order to be left alone.
– If the competitor resolves one complaint, the troll just keeps making new ones
– If DDL fails to convince Kickstarter to place the Loona funds in escrow, the next step will likely be to file an intellectual property case in court. They will try to get a judge to order that the funds be placed in escrow.
Fascinating, truly fascinating. I await the “60 Minutes” documentary! And as an aside, I noticed there was a mistake in that claim from DDL:
“To be clear, my client’s copyright does NOT apply to photographs previously appearing on the campaign page. Instead, the copyrights apply to the audiovisual display of the robot, and the the post confirms that the design and function of the robot have NOT changed.”
– If you didn’t spot it, they typed “the” twice in a row. You’d think a legal office would have proof readers.
Kickstarter wrote in their mail “the creator should still be able to move forward with the project” not “is able to move forward with the project”.
It’s too soon for Kickstarter to say definitely that the creator can move forward with the project. Kickstarter doesn’t want backers to blame them if DDL stops Keyi from completing the project. In other words they’re covering their butts.
Even if Kickstarter dismisses the second complaint, DDL is likely to take it to court and apply for the project to be halted and the pledges put into escrow. Then it would be up to a judge to decide. DDL wants the money and will go to great lengths to extort it.
That said, anyone who wants to buy an Emo can get one for sale from its creator – even though DDL is working on their third vexatious lawsuit against them. So it’s not impossible for creators to continue marketing their product while DDL is harassing them.
I do not know how the legal situation is in the USA, but I cannot believe there is any legal way to get their hands on money that was given to Kickstarter for the explicit cause to fund KEYi Techs product. I trusted KS with my money for that. if they do not relay that money to the project starter immediately they breached their contract with me, in my opinion. Third party claims have nothing to do with this. Third parties can only act against KEYi but nit against me or my money.
DDL does not and can not “own” square eyes on a robot. There is prior art. Look at the robots in futurama for a start.
xanathon would you please do the community a favor by posting a wiki of the ongoing saga of the anki IP and how DDL has upset customers, lied about the status of development, missed dates so often it’d become a joke anytime they state a date, used the IP to attack both EMO and Loona? This could provide new enthusiasts, mediza, and investors a top search result that provides the whole picture of the despicable management at DDL.
No, I will not. That is not what a wiki is for, a wiki is an encyclopedic knowledgebase. Aside from that: You can read all Vector and DDL related blogposts on this site and you get exactly what you want. You can filter the articles by topics and by tags.