A judge has mostly denied Star Citizen studio’s motion to dismiss the Crytek copyright lawsuit

    
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MMO-watchers will recall that just before the turn of the new year, Crytek filed to sue Cloud Imperium, the company behind the sprawling and controversial crowdfunded MMO Star Citizen. Crytek alleged that CIG infringed its copyrights by using CryEngine to develop non-Star Citizen game assets in the form of Squadron 42 while misusing Crytek’s logo in marketing materials and Crytek’s CryEngine in the form of Star Engine. As recompense for this supposed breach, Crytek demanded a significant sum, including direct damages, lost profits, and punitive damages, as well as a permanent injunction against CIG’s use of CryEngine.

CIG, for its part, has denied the accusations, calling it a “meritless” lawsuit; it’s pointed to the licensing agreement that limits liability and damages from contract breaches, as well as asserted that it’s not using Crytek’s engine (any more) and that name changes to and expansions of Star Citizen’s “online universe” do not constitute a new game.

We’re coming to a middle in the saga now, as yesterday the judge ruled on CIG’s motion to dismiss; specifically, she granted the motion to dismiss on two grounds: the claim on CryEngine exclusivity and the pursuit of punitive damages. However, she denied CIG’s motion to dismiss on the breach of contract and copyright infringement grounds, and she allowed Crytek’s pursuit of injunctive relief and other damages.

In other words, most of the lawsuit will go on. Invest in popcorn manufactories.

Source: CV 17-8937-DMG via Docdroid, Reddit. Thanks Quavers and Cotic.
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oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

Waiting to see if Crytek apply for injunctive relief as that will be the end of Star Citizen.

Also waiting for SC’s Space Lawyer ship package :)

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Kevin McCaughey

Could you explain why this would be the case? I have no idea what this legal term means.

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Armsman

CRYTEK could request the Judge place an injunction against CIG to prevent them from:

– Continuing to accept any further Pledges toward/Sales of merchandise related to Star Citizen and SQ42

– Continuing ANY FURTHER development on SC or SQ42 development

Until the full case is adjudicated, or the parties reach a settlement.

That said, given the way the Judge ruled on the Motion To Dismiss, I doubt she would grant either (unless CRYTEK does do an amended Pleading that corrects what she saw as deficient arguments in parts of CRYTEK’s initial pleading that she ruled on. (Of course if they do, CIG would be able to file another MTD against that amended pleading.)

IF the contract situation was such that CIG entered into a contract and never paid CRYTEK one cent of what was agreed on, the Judge might grant either two requests (were CRYTEK to make them) – but all evidence points to CRYTEK having received the agreed upon amount ($2.5 million) – and what’s left are CTRYTEK’s claims of ‘public source code exposure in CIG videos’; the belief that somehow CIG negotiated in ‘bad faith/unfairly’ because one of the persons involved on CIG’s side was a former CRYTEK employee (although CIG has stated CRYTEK was fully aware of this before negotiations were entered and they have a written Waiver from CRYTEK); CRYTEK saying “Squadron 42 was never part of the original licensing agreement” (even though in the Contract snippets that have been released, SQ42 does in fact appeared to be mentioned separately and included); and lastly, that CIG violated copyright agreements by NOT displaying CRYTEK logos while they were still using CRYTEK’s engine for development of SC.
CIG’s claim of defense is that they stopped using CRYENGINE fpor development and now have a contract with AMAZON to use LUMBEDRYARD (and yes, LUMBERYARD is a fork of CRYENGINE, but legally CRYTEK sold it to AMAZON, so legally LUMBERYARD is a different engine); and that they didn’t remove CRYTEK’s logos until they started using LUMBERYARD for continued development. That’s one major crux of CRYTEK’s case, that CIG removed the logos BEFORE the LUMBERYARD switch.<— And this is what they want a trial (with evidence from both sides) and a Judge or Jury to decide.
^^^
The Judge also stated CRYTEK was NOT entitled to punitive damages based on their initial pleading; but they could if they wished file an amended pleading, and she might reconsider.

Bottom line: CRYTEK probablty doesn't want to actually prevent CIG from continuing to take in funds, or stop development because what they hope to get is either:

– Rights to include and sell/license the CIG CRYTEK engine upgrades as a part of a game engine CRYTEK could still claim as theirs.

– As much money as they cane from this case – either in court awarded damages (should CRYTEK prevail and be able to prove monetary damages were incurred by them); or in a settlement directly with CIG (which would likely remain private between the two parties and the amount and terms would not be disclosed publicly.)

So yeah, if CRYTEK forces CIG to fold, the amount of money they would realistically see from either favorable (to CRYTEK) result would be diminished – and in the end, CRYTEK probably wants money.

But as others have said, in the end, the longer this drags out – the only winners are the lawyers (who get their legal fees no matter what happens.)

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Kevin McCaughey

Sounds like a pretty speculative legal case with not much merit to me then. Hopefully it will get dismissed.

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Armsman

I doubt it will get dismissed entirely; as the Motion to Dismiss was only partially granted – Judges don’t like to dismiss a case out of hand unless the lawsuit is in there eyes completely unfounded. As there were parts of the contract that both sides contest, it’s no surprise the Judge found things she feels needs to be put in front of a ;tier of fact’ (be it herself, or a Jury). And if you’re wondering why there was no evidence presented by either side yet – that rarely happens at the Pleading stage (which is where the case is at). Since it’s a CA court, the next thing the Judge will do is have both sides schedule and submit to a Mandatory Settlement Conference – and if they don’t reach a settlement at that phase; the case will move into the Discovery phase where evidence is exchanged and sought by both sides (depositions given by witnesses, etc.); uisually an expensive process for both sides because space needs to be rented (even if it’s in a Lawyers office, the Lawyers charge for that too); Court Reporters paid (to take deposition); etc.

CRYTEK is really interested to get to on with Discovery because they want a copy of the entire codebase for SC and SQ42 to try and find some code remenent that they can claim isn’t a part of the Lumberyard branch, and definitely unique to the original Cryengine in an attempt to show that yes, CIG is still using a part of Cryengine, didn’t fully switch to Lumberyard; thus their original agreement is still in full force. I’m sure (if it gets to that stage)CIG will want an independent ‘expert’ (employed by neither CRYTEK nor CIG) to do any forensic code analysis.

But yeah, since CRYTEK’s novel interpretation of the term ‘Exclusive’ (which did in fact go 100% against the normal contractual interpretation of the term in contract law) was ruled invalid by the Judge, and she said the standard definition of the term is what the court will go by; and unless CRYTEK finds some other breach they haven’t stated (and they state them in an ammended pleading which CIG could then file an updated MTD in response) Punitive damages are disallowed under the original CRYTEK Pleading <—( that's the BIG bucks as statutory damages aren't much here); I think in the end, they'll reach a monetary settlement that would be in the end less costly then an entire Trial, and CRYTEK can get more money (beyond the $2.5 million they were already paid) for effectively doing nothing.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

Injunctive relief consists of a court order called an injunction, requiring an individual to do or not do a specific action.

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Sally Bowls

IMO, the only winners will be the lawyers.

But in the initial flurry of the PR battle (Dec 13), there was a CIG comment that struck me as implausible.

This is a meritless lawsuit that we will defend vigorously against, including recovering from Crytek any costs incurred in this matter.”

CIG may prevail – we will know in a couple of years – but even if they completely win as opposed to win on the substantive points, IANAL but “recovering from Crytek any costs incurred in this matter” is not that likely since “the American Rule is that each party pays only their own attorney’s fees, regardless of whether they win or lose.

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Armsman

As always, depends on the Judge. If a Judge feels a lawsuit is completely without merit, he can if fact order the Plaintiff to cover the Defendants and they often will in such cases to discourage such lawsuits. It’s rare, but it happens.

In this case though, no I don’t think CIG will get such a ruling as there probably is some merit based on the Judge’s comments on the motion to dismiss. That said, CRYTEK even if they get something, won’t get the big windfall they were hoping for as the Judge (IMO absolutely 100% rightfully) struck down their argument as to how they interpreted the terms “Exclusive” and “Exclusively” in the contract and in the GLA. They also won’t get punitive damages (which really deflates the possible award they might get, if any.)

If CIG did indeed get a written waiver from CRYTEK (RE: The claim the negations were somehow unfair because CIG had an ex-CRYTEK employee in said negotiations); that CRYTEK claim dies too.

Also, if BOTH SC and SQ42 were named in the contract, the CRYTEK claim that CIG wasn’t properly licensed to make SQ42 dies too.

The only thing Crytek may get is some statutory award because CIG stopped displaying CRYTEK logos prior to the official switch to Lumberyard (CRYTEK would still have to prove they were actually monetarily damaged by this – which may be difficult considering they’ve had Cryengine V available with a essentially free/open licence since 2016; and the same goes for any Cryengine 3.5 code visible in CIG videos like ATV and Bug Smashers – IE CRYTEK has to prove they were somehow actually monetarily damaged by the code being visible.)

So yeah, CRYTEK might get a small settlement from CIG (it would probably cost both sides less them paying fees and other costs needed in a Discovery phase), but they won’t get what they were really hoping for – IE the right to get the modified CIG Engine code for themselves, and further punitive damages.

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Sally Bowls

You make a number of good points as to how Crytek could/will lose the lawsuit. But my point is that while yes a judge has discretion, my layman’s expectation, especially in a case where most of the claims survived the MTD, is that he won’t.

I.e., IMO the statement made by CIG last December is not likely to turn out to be true and that the CIG legal team knew that at the time the statement was made.

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Armsman

It’s honestly pretty much a standard legal phrase the defendant makes at the start of any civil lawsuit involving a Contract. (IE to immediately claim a lawsuit has no merit). If CIG’s legal team didn’t do that – I’d have been worried about the competence level of their legal representation.

Hell, the Judge’s ruling on elements of the MTD points out CRYTEK legal arguments that the Judge himself finds false. Welcome to the U.S. Civil Legal system. ;)

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shathiell

These things suck. No matter whose side you are on the true winners in these things are the lawyers

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Tee Parsley

Irrespective of the elements of the Crytek case, the most interesting aspect to me is that of Discovery.

Crytek can now go through CIG’s books, and if there’s anything crooked, inefficient, or wasteful, it can be exposed.

I’ve always expected CIG to settle out of court (using backer money, of course) to avoid having to shine the light of day on their inner workings. But I’d rather see it go to discovery.

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primal

i dont think they can go through CIGs books because the lawsuit has nothing to do with there finances.

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Armsman

CRYTEK wouldn’t be able to look at CIG’s books UNLESS there was an allegation they never paid what the contract called for; and CRYTEK hasn’t claimed anything like that – CRYTEK was in fact paid the $2.5 million the contract specified.

The only other time they’d get a peek at CIG’s books would be in the ‘Damage’ phase (assuming they were awarded damages) AND the Damages awarded included a further percentage of what CIG took in during the time period they were found ‘in breech’.
^^^
Te case is nowhere near that point yet.

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angrakhan

All I have to say is I bet Chris Roberts is kicking himself in the ass for not spending the time to build his own engine from the get go. Surely that wouldn’t have taken any longer than this game already has and he wouldn’t be in the middle of this lawsuit which has the potential to kill the whole project.

Hindsight!

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GoJammit

At this point, I wonder if it would have.

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Jacques d'Orleans

Using CryEngine or Lumberyard for such a project is like putting a Harley Davidson engine into a M1A2 tank. A in-house built engine would have been the way to go right from the start and I will never understand why they didn’t went that way.

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Estranged

My assumption is they went cheap, given the sweet deal that Crytek offered at the time.

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primal

or the fact the game is vastly different now than it was back then and sq42 was the first thing that would of been released and cryengine would have been fine for that. now cryengine absolutely sucks for it now and its runnign on 90% newly created code according to sean tracy, and im sure itll ramp upto 95% minimum when they get rid of the old crap networking stuff

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Armsman

IDK – $2.5 Million (which is what CIG paid) is kind of steep for what they actually got from the CRYTEK side. Especially with CRYTEK tryingn to claim is locked them into only being able to use Cryengine 3.5 and nothing else; and further having to provide CRYTEK with workable update packages for any fixes they made. (The Judge struck down CRYTEK’s definition of the word ‘Exclusive” and clarified it to mean what it usually does in Contract law, so a lot of what CRYTEK was hoping to get in Damages and ability to claim/sell CIG Engine code modifications themselves as a result went out the window with that in and of itself.)

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Sally Bowls

It seems credible that not using Crytek may have been the correct decision. But I can’t see how building a new engine from scratch would not have added a year or two to the current timeline.

I remember some of the SWTOR devs regarding their Hero Engine. Anyway, if you don’t have an engine, then a lot the rest of the groups in your dev team need to wait until you have it designed, refactored, redesigned and are at least approaching alpha before they can do their work.

While it may have been the correct decision, I don’t see how a new engine does not push back the existing schedule due to an initial “waiting for engine” delay.

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Brother Maynard

Yeah, but then every engine component would have been a stretch goal, with no end in sight.

Leave it to CIG to split the engine development to the tiniest individual deliverables and then monetise / crowdsource each separately…

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anarres

Okay so after checking the initial complaint and the GLA, I’m not sure Crytek has much of a case here. Their complaint sounds believable, but I feel pretty dumb for initially believing its claimed facts, because the simplest things got disproved by the GLA.

Like the claim that the license was granted only for SC, and not for S42? Well, the GLA says black on white that it is granted for SC AND S42.

The rest depends on the facts, and that’s what a trial is for.

I don’t have a dog in this fight, just looking at things a bit.

I still don’t see Crytek’s copyright case either. At least in the initial complaint they didn’t make it well. (I understand that there’s an amended complaint too, I didn’t see it, that might try better.)

The only thing I see in the complaint is basically “they breached the contract that was their license to the engine, so they had no license to the engine”. Well, this is possible, but not easy. And they didn’t explain enough to make the claim.

2.4 has some chance, the clause prevents CIG from developing another engine, and didn’t CIG say that they modified the engine so much that it’s now StarEngine?

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dsmart

LOL!! Oh, OK.

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primal

funny how you absolutely hung on to the exclusive section saying CIG could only use cryengine and nothing else, thats been thrown out…. unlucky and crytek cant get punitive damages either

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primal

yeah but the point there making is sq42 wasnt supposed to be a separately released game which it wasnt back then but is now. they might award crytek the amount which they paid for the original license which is 1.85mill euros (i think it was) with no further royalty payments attached. which they could just pull out the change from the back of the sofa and give to them.

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anarres

But the GLA doesn’t say that. It says that “[SC] and its related space fighter game Squadron 42” are licensed. It contemplates a different game, related but another, called S42.
It would have been much better for Crytek’s case if it wasn’t. This way they try to claim they’re surprised that what, that S42 doesn’t have a common launcher with SC?
Dunno if that doesn’t exist already, even, it’s not like it’s a problem. Same for selling both together, and separately.

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Armsman

Um, if you look at the original pitch, the two WERE separate games. In fact SC (the MMO) was a stretch goal in the initial crowdfunding campaign. The initial plan (when it was supposed to be 2 million crowdfunded with ‘Angel Investors’ putting up the rest) was to release SQ42 first, and then bring SC online one to two years later.
^^^
That was the original idea. It’s only once they got into the $18-$20 million dollar range SC started floating the idea that the games could be released concurrently and also that he could expand the original scope of SC and SQ42.

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Beet Wagon

Well well well, it seems space court is real after all.

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Jacques d'Orleans

See in our next episode of American Greed: The fall of an Game Dev/ Whaling in SoCal/ The 25000$ coffee machine.
Narrated by Stacy Keach.

soberwhenlightsout
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soberwhenlightsout

Please, please, please Crytek…..please file an injunction to halt the sale of SC. Tomorrow would be nice.

Chronic Enigma
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Chronic Enigma

Why, its a good game? I enjoy it immensley and I know many of my friends who are excited as well.

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Jacques d'Orleans

Yeah, sure.

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Paragon Lost

I find it hard to see anyone saying Star Citizen is a “good game” at this point. It’s not even near to being a complete fully functioning mmo.

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Joe Seabreeze

Some people don’t mind watching paint dry too, so I can totally understand.

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Blazing Coconut

I don’t get the hate. Really don’t.

I mean, I’m a backer for $20. So I guess I’m invested in the “success” of the project. I tried a version of it once and decided to wait until/if it’s done.

But even if you’re not a backer, why would you want the game to fail? Even if you didn’t like Chis Roberts, that’s really a horrible thing to wish on the people who are really looking forward to the success of this game. Play it or not, but the hate is really kind of bizzare as is the hate at people who want to spend lots of money on the potential of the game. It’s their money and while I don’t get it, I don’t begrudge them for doing so.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

But even if you’re not a backer, why would you want the game to fail?

You won’t get an answer to this question because the issue has many different incentives to keep its agenda going. The least of which is resolving dissidents. Large sums of money, gaming influence, control, revenge are just a a few reasons why there are people who are motivated to see this game fail.. Some feel betrayed and ripped off and rightfully so. It’s a can of worms that will be told someday I’m sure.

Some who have little to no investment wanna see the world burn with a bowl of buttery popcorn and some are just not of sound mind.

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FUD Buddy

But even if you’re not a backer, why would you want the game to fail?

I can only speak for myself.

I want crowd funding projects to be responsible and held accountable for their actions. The constant lies and false promises that have been told to the public by Chris Roberts are documented on video. This has become a scam and it needs to be exposed. If that means the game fails then that’s too bad.

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Blazing Coconut

I appreciate the candid response.

I would think that even if you thought it was a scam, so what? Don’t put money to it and move on. There are people who seem to think they are or have gotten their money’s worth and if so, great!

I think the market will probably be hesitant to back projects in this manner again, but I could be wrong.

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rePool

Isn’t that kind of thinking akin to if you see someone depressed just ignore them and don’t offer help? If I see something wrong and I’m being threatened (which I’ve been on reddit) and harassed because I gave my own opinion on why I refunded $7000 I tend to show more interest in pointing out the red flags.

I don’t like seeing the end result of stuff like this. If there are problems, Chris should say them so people set their expectations appropriately.

If I see someone on the street getting scammed, I’ll pull them aside and say walk away. Don’t do it. It’s no different online IMHO.

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Armsbend

The good thing with this story is now CIG can blame their development woes on something else besides their own incompetence. The lawsuit. They also have been given a new avenue of fund raising – the lawsuit.

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Joe Blobers

Let’s just borrow for a minute Bree last sentence as being best summary of all incoming comments from ours “internet lawyer experts” and other prophet of Doom:

In other words, most of the lawsuit will go on. Invest in popcorn manufactories.

Let’s start the show: If this and If that… CIG… 500M$ fine… collapse…. I told you so…. this is the end… :)

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Schlag Sweetleaf

.

THE SHILLVER SURFER.gif
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Paragon Lost

lol! Oh my Schlag, that’s soo on point. Nicely done.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred

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Joe Blobers

I am honor. Here is my upvote Schlag! :)

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Schlag Sweetleaf

Good on ya ,Joe, the SC threads wouldn’t be the same with out you:)

cmdr_cotic
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cmdr_cotic

Let’s just borrow for a minute Bree last sentence as being best summary of all incoming comments from ours “internet lawyer experts” and other prophet of Doom:

As opposed to whiteknights parroting Mr French and Mr Leser, youtube lawyers extraordinaires with their CryTek is going to get CryRekted forecasts?

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

that’s an interesting point that has yet to be brought up in this venue afaik.

there’s a number of youtuber “lawyers” that keep shit posting v logs about how ever motion proves that crytek is getting rekt in court and have no case.

it’s awkward af to say the least because there’s no clear outcomes here. and much of the rhetoric so far is lawyer posturing without much weight.

so for these so called youtuber legal experts to go off… well. again it’s awkward.

in the end we are all shitposters on the internet, and these so called lawyers have little more weight than any of our shit posts here. b a ana ana anas.