Tetris has been involved in many legal battles. In June 1984, Alexey Pajitnov created Tetris on an Elektronika 60 while working for the Soviet Academy of Sciences at their Computer Center in Moscow with Dmitry Pavlovsky, and Vadim Gerasimov ported it to the IBM PC. Gerasimov reports that Pajitnov chose the name "Tetris" as "a combination of 'tetramino' and 'tennis'." From there, the PC game exploded into popularity, and began spreading all around Moscow. The most recent version of this port is available on Gerasimov's web site.
The IBM PC version eventually made its way to Budapest, Hungary, where it was ported to various platforms and was "discovered" by a British software house named Andromeda. They attempted to contact Pajitnov to secure the rights for the PC version, but before the deal was firmly settled, they had already sold the rights to Spectrum HoloByte. After failing to settle the deal with Pajitnov, Andromeda attempted to license it from the Hungarian programmers instead.
Meanwhile, before any legal rights were settled, the Spectrum HoloByte IBM PC version of Tetris was released in the United States in 1986. The game's popularity was tremendous, and many players were instantly hooked; Computer Gaming World called the game "deceptively simple and insidiously addictive".
The details of the licensing issues were uncertain by this point, but in 1987 Andromeda managed to obtain copyright licensing for the IBM PC version and any other home computer system.
For Amiga and Atari ST two different versions by Spectrum HoloByte and Mirrorsoft became available. The Mirrorsoft version did not feature any background graphics while the Holobyte version had a background picture related to Russian themes for each level. Games were sold as budget titles due to the game's simplicity. Spectrum's Apple II package actually contained three diskettes with three different versions of the game, for the Apple II+ and Apple IIe on separate DOS 3.3 and ProDOS 5.25 in (133 mm) diskettes, and for the Apple IIgs on a 3.5 in (89 mm) diskette, none of which was copy-protected: the included documentation specifically charged the purchaser on his or her honor to not give away or copy the extra diskettes.
By 1988, the Soviet government began to market the rights to Tetris, after a promotional trip to the country by Gerald Hicks, the one time United States champion of the game, through an organization called Elektronorgtechnica, or "Elorg" for short. Pajitnov had granted his rights to the Soviet Government, via the Computer Center he worked at for ten years. By this time, Elorg had still seen no money from Andromeda, and yet Andromeda was licensing and sub-licensing rights that they themselves did not even have. In 1988, Sega released an arcade game version of Tetris. This Sega version won the Japanese Gamest Award for Game of the Year in 1989.