Wordle Engages in Legal Dispute with Geographical Spinoff, Worldle

geography spinoff, legal row, tags: Wordle, Worldle

Title: Wordle vs. Worldle: A Legal Battle in the Online Gaming Sphere


In 2022, the New York Times acquired the hit online game Wordle, only to find itself embroiled in a legal dispute with the creator of a geography-based spinoff called Worldle. The New York Times accuses Worldle of capitalizing on its brand’s goodwill and creating confusion among players. However, the creator of Worldle, Kory McDonald, defends his game, citing the existence of numerous games with similar naming conventions. This article explores the legal challenges surrounding these two games and provides insights into the broader implications and trends in the online gaming industry.

The Wordle Phenomenon

Originally developed in 2021 as a side project by British inventor Josh Wardle, Wordle quickly gained immense popularity, captivating millions of players worldwide. Its addictive nature and simplicity led to unprecedented success, prompting the New York Times to acquire it for a significant sum. With the acquisition, the New York Times hoped to tap into Wordle’s massive user base and the associated lucrative opportunities. However, it soon found itself facing an unexpected hurdle in the form of Worldle.

Worldle: A Different Take on the Concept

Kory McDonald, a software developer based in Seattle, created Worldle with a focus on geography rather than words. McDonald argues that there is an entire industry of “.LE games” featuring similar naming conventions. For instance, Wordle centers around words, Worldle revolves around the world, and Flaggle focuses on flags. McDonald believes that his game is distinct enough to avoid confusion with Wordle.

Legal Disputes and Arguments

The New York Times, through its legal filing, contends that Worldle is nearly identical to Wordle in appearance, sound, meaning, and commercial impression. It asserts that Worldle is attempting to piggyback on Wordle’s success and benefits from its established brand recognition. On the other hand, McDonald defends his game, claiming that Worldle has a unique identity and does not infringe upon Wordle’s trademarks or intellectual property rights.

Implications and Challenges of Similar Games

The proliferation of similar games, such as Quordle, Nerdle, Heardle, and another game called Worldle that focuses on identifying countries, raises questions about the boundaries between originality and imitation in the gaming industry. While the New York Times initially expressed a nonchalant attitude towards similar games, its decision to take legal action against Worldle suggests a change in stance. Is imitation really the best form of flattery, or does it pose a threat to the innovation and success of game creators?

Copyright and Consumer Confusion

Legal expert Prof. David Levine highlights potential issues related to consumer confusion, pronunciation, and the one-letter difference between the names Wordle and Worldle. Phonetically, distinguishing between the two becomes challenging, and confusion among players may arise. This aspect strengthens the New York Times’ argument that Worldle creates ambiguity and exploits Wordle’s brand equity.

The Future of Worldle

Kory McDonald expresses disappointment over the legal action but remains determined to fight for his creation. As a one-man operation, he acknowledges the possibility of a worst-case scenario where he may need to change the name of the game. Nevertheless, he maintains his optimism, believing that Worldle will continue to thrive.


The legal battle between Wordle and Worldle highlights the challenges faced by game creators in a rapidly evolving online gaming industry. As the popularity of these games soars, establishing brand identity and protecting intellectual property becomes critical. The outcome of this legal dispute will provide valuable insights into the future regulations surrounding game titles and the delicate balance between innovation and imitation. Regardless of the resolution, it is clear that both games have captivated players globally and have spurred discussions about the boundaries of similarity and originality in the gaming realm.

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