Let the battle royale lawsuits begin! TorrentFreak caught wind of a new lawsuit in California that ought to set all the cloners on edge: PUBG Corporation is suing NetEase for ripping off PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, specifically alleging copyright infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair business competition. (The Korean PUBG Corp and Chinese NetEase both operate businesses in the US, hence the justification for the venue.)
Given how old this particular genre is, and how PUBG was far from the first to run with it, you might be skeptical about the company’s claims. PUBG Corp believes it has copyrighted the concept of a pre-game lobby where you can test out weapons, among multiple other concepts, including the dynamic air-drop spawning system, the map, the boost bar and consumables, “starting with nothing” and being forced to compete for resources, realistic gear, character paper doll, shrinking gameplay, down-but-not-out incapping, butt-covering frying pan… it goes on like that for a while. Maybe we’ll give them the frying pan. Honestly the screenshots are more convincing than the list. 154 pages of this.
Consequently, PUBG Corp alleges, Netease has infringed on those copyrights in its games Knives Out and Rules of Survival, which also employ many of these mechanics, as the company argues, with clear intent to confuse and deceive users for profit.
“Defendants have committed unlawful, unfair, and/or fraudulent business acts by copying PUBG’s BATTLEGROUNDS game in each version of their ROS and KO games and introducing the ROS and KO games to the marketplace at or below cost. This act was intended to injure PUBG and has injured PUBG by unfairly using PUBG’s own development efforts and consumer goodwill to capture mobile gaming market share before PUBG launched its own mobile version of BATTLEGROUNDS, in violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200. […] On information and belief, Defendants’ unlawful, unfair, and/or fraudulent business acts have been and continue to be willful, intentional, knowing, and purposeful, in disregard of and indifferent to PUBG’s rights.”
PUBG Corp seeks to have Netease’s allegedly infringing games removed from development and $150,000 in damages per game, unless actual damages and profits at trial turn out to be higher.
The court of Massively OP rules that if nothing else, Knives Out is a better name than PUBG.