June 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

Complete News World

Wordle is stuck in a legal dispute with a geographic show, Worldle

Wordle is stuck in a legal dispute with a geographic show, Worldle

Image source, Getty and Corey McDonald

  • author, Zoe Kleinman
  • Role, Technology Editor

The owner of the popular online game Wordle is legally challenging a geography-based spinoff game called Worldle.

In the filing, The New York Times, which bought Wordle for a seven-figure sum in 2022, accuses its nearly namesake company of “creating confusion” and trying to capitalize on the “enormous goodwill” associated with its own brand.

But Worldle’s creator, software developer Kory McDonald, has vowed to respond on the grounds that there are many other games with similar titles.

“There’s a whole industry of [dot]“LE Games,” he told the BBC.

“Wordle is about words, Worldle is about the world, and Flaggle is about flags,” he noted.

The New York Times disagrees.

Worldle is “virtually identical in appearance, sound and meaning, and imparts the same commercial impression as… Wordle,” it says in its legal document.

The newspaper told the BBC that it had no further comment other than the content of its legal memorandum.

Word association

British inventor Josh Wardle developed Wordle in 2021 as a side project to entertain his girlfriend.

But since then it has become a giant, reaching millions of people around the world.

By contrast, about 100,000 people play Worldle each month, according to McDonald, who is based in Seattle.

It is not available as an app and can only be run via a web browser.

Image source, Corey MacDonald

Comment on the photo, Corey McDonald says he’s surprised he’s facing legal action

He chooses a different person himself every evening for a new match the next day.

“It’s humbling to think that so many people play every month,” he said.

“I didn’t expect it to have this kind of success at all.”

He’s not the only one riding on the coattails of Wordle’s success. Others include:

  • Quordle, a set of four words to guess at the same time
  • Nerdle, a math-based challenge
  • Heardle, which is based on identifying music

There is also another game called Worldle, which involves identifying countries by their outlines.

The New York Times declined to say whether it planned to pursue them as well.

Speaking to the BBC last year, head of gaming Jonathan Knight said imitation was “the best form of flattery”.

“We’ve always been good with [similar games] They believe that they only help keep the game fresh and lively for people.

But this isn’t the first time The New York Times has turned to the courts to protect its awards game.

In March 2024, a Shetland-accented version of Wordle said it would be shut down following a copyright challenge from the publishing group.

Professor David Levine, a copyright expert at Elon University School of Law, suggested that the writing may be on the wall for McDonald’s project as well.

He said the one-letter difference between the two names could be a problem, and added that there were also “other aspects of potential consumer confusion.”

“I mean I have to make an effort here to say Wordle versus Worldle.”

MacDonald said he was disappointed by the legal action taken against him, but insisted he was not afraid.

“I’m just a one-man operation here, so I was kind of surprised,” he said.

“The worst case scenario is we change the name, but I think we’ll be fine.”

Additional reporting by Francesca Hashemi