Remember back in April, when Korea-based PUBG Corp. accused China-based Netease of ripping off PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds with its battle royale titles Knives Out (which is making bank) and Rules of Survival, and subsequently lodged a lawsuit against it in the US courts? Then remember when Netease threatened to sue everybody who cloned it and PUBG dropped its other lawsuit against Epic Games?
Netease has responded to PUBG Corp.’s complaint against it with a motion to dismiss, predictably arguing that no company is entitled to ownership of an entire genre like battle royale and that the copyright act protects only original expression; specifically, it claims PUBC Corp. cannot legally copyright things like game lobbies and health bars.
“This litigation is a shameless attempt by the PUBG Plaintiffs to monopolize the ‘battle royale’ genre of video games and inhibit legitimate competition. Plaintiffs’ copyright claim is premised on alleged similarities in ideas, merger of ideas and expression, scenes a faire, and game rules and mechanics. Copyright does not protect any of these aspects of PUBG’s game. In those few instances where PUBG identifies protectable expression, differences abound—as reflected in the complaint, as well as the works at issue. This is particularly the case for real-world products, such as weapons and vehicles, which PUBG did not create in the first instance, and which are entitled to thin protection, at most. As no discovery can improve PUBG’s position regarding substantial similarity, it is evident now that Plaintiffs’ copyright claim cannot survive.”
Your tax dollars at work!
Meanwhile, Tencent and Riot Games have emerged victorious from their latest lawsuit, this one against the CEO of Moonton Technology, which ran Mobile Legends, purportedly a League of Legends clone. This lawsuit, however, was specifically against the CEO, who Tencent alleged had broken a non-compete/NDA clause in his contract. Tencent pockets nearly $3M US on its win. A secondary copyright lawsuit is yet to be resolved.