Author of “The Tetris Effect” Sues Apple and Tetris for Copyright Infringement

Author and Gizmodo Editor-in-Chief Dan Ackerman, who wrote “The Tetris Effect,” sued Apple, Tetris, and others in federal court on Monday, asserting that his book was copied for Apple TV’s movie, “Tetris.”

The complaint describes Ackerman’s book as “a unique approach to writing about the real history of Tetris, as it not only applied the historical record, but also layered his own original research and ingenuity to create a compelling narrative non-fiction book in the style of a Cold War spy thriller,” noting that the movie “often resonat[ed] the exact same feel, tone, approach, and scenes as the book.”

Ackerman began work on his book in March and April of 2014, according to the complaint, and almost immediately decided to focus the story on the connection between Tetris and the USSR. The complaint states that the list of historical figures and events Ackerman sent to his agent in April 2014 was almost identical to those characters, events, and themes reflected in the Tetris movie. It goes on to detail 22 instances in which the movie appears to copy the book.

A few months after the book deal was announced in Publisher’s Magazine and about one year after the earliest proposal was complete, Ackerman interviewed “key players” in the Tetris story, including Henk Rogers (the main character in the book and movie), Alexey Pajitnov, Maya Rogers, Minoru Arakawa, and Howard Lincoln.

In July 2016, about one year after the first draft of the book was complete, Ackerman’s representatives sent a copy of the book to Tetris’s public relations company, according to the complaint. The complaint asserts that after reading the book, Maya Rogers, CEO of the Tetris Company, used the work to develop a screenplay without Ackerman’s knowledge or consent. The complaint further alleges that Rogers refused to license any Tetris intellectual property for a movie or TV project based on the book and threatened to take legal action if Ackerman pursued any related projects for his work. In fact, says the complaint, Ackerman received a cease and desist letter from the Tetris Company on September 1, 2016.

The complaint asserts that Ackerman’s book received a lot of interest and press upon publication, but no film or television producer would option the book without the ability to license the Tetris IP.

The complaint alleges copyright infringement, unfair competition, and tortious interference with business relations. It requests three percent of the total production budget for the movie as actual and compensatory damages and three percent as punitive damages.

In addition to Apple and Tetris, the defendants in the lawsuit include Noah Pink, a Canadian screenwriter, Maya Rogers, the CEO of the Tetris Company, and four producers of the movie.

Additional Reading

An author is suing Apple and Tetris, accusing them of adapting his book about the game into a film without permission, listing 22 similarities, Business Insider (August 9, 2023)

Gizmodo editor-in-chief sues Apple over Tetris move, The Verge (August 8, 2023)

Ackerman v. Pink Complaint

Image Credit: Radachynskyi Serhii /