Copyright

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
battle royale, copyright, fortnite, pubg

Companies:
epic, pubg



We Hardly Knew Ye: PUBG Drops Lawsuit Against Epic Over Fortnite Similarities

from the rage-quit dept

About a month ago we learned that PUBG Corp., the company behind the game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, had sued Epic Games, makers of Fortnite, earlier this year in South Korea. This whole dust up between the two game developers has been monumentally frustrating, specifically due to the folks at PUBG being confused as to whether video games get any IP protection (they do!) and, then, whether fairly generic game modes and game genres are afforded copyright protection (they're not!).

The problem for PUBG in all of this is that its game mode of a battle royale pitting a hundred players against each other is simply not something that fits into copyright law's protection. As we've explained, there is an idea/expression dichotomy in many country's copyright laws, in which the specific expression is afforded copyright but mere ideas are not. For example, the art assets for PUBG absolutely are copyrightable, while the concept of a battle royale is not. Due to that, PUBG's lawsuit was always going to face a steep uphill climb to come out in its favor.

With that in mind, then, it's probably not terribly surprising that PUBG has now dropped the lawsuit entirely.

The studio behind PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has dropped its lawsuitagainst the creators of global sensation Fortnite, ending a legal battle between two of the world’s hottest games.

PUBG Corp. sent a letter of withdrawal to Epic Games Inc.’s attorneys on Monday and the South Korean case has since closed, according to the website of the local court system. PUBG and its law firm confirmed the action but wouldn’t say why, nor whether a settlement had been reached. Representatives for Epic in Korea had no immediate comment.

There is of course no way to be sure, but with PUBG not crowing about a settlement, it's plausible none was ever reached. Certainly on the merits it would make much more sense for the legal team for PUBG to have finally convinced the executives there that either the case was not likely to be a winner, or that their interests were better served not entering into a lengthy and expensive legal battle with Epic, or both.

Complicating all of this is how intertwined PUBG and EPIC are, from ownership of both to the technology behind PUBG.

Both are part-owned by social media and gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. and have carved out commanding positions in the Battle Royale format. But PUBG contended in January that Epic’s Fortnite mimicked many of the characteristics of its own title. To complicate matters, Epic provides PUBG with its Unreal Enginetechnology, used to create PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and an industry standard for professional game developers.

All of this would seem to add up to PUBG finally coming to its senses. Ultimately, that's a good thing for all parties, but it would be great if game companies motivated by jealousy didn't attack one another in the first place.


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  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 28 Jun 2018 @ 7:38pm

    Perhaps they figured out that no amount of "novel" frying-pan armor could cover their asses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zem, 28 Jun 2018 @ 7:57pm

    They stayed too long close to the edge and didn't pay attention to their surroundings. They had no choice but to drop the lawsuit when the circle had contracted beyond the point of no return.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2018 @ 8:02pm

    Game mechanics aren't afforded copyright protection. Copyright law was simply the mechanism used to harass Epic because no other law opens doors, wallets, and judges' legs in the way that copyright does. If you want to avoid a judge asking you uncomfortable questions about how your litigious approach might not be actually legal, just scream "copyright infringement".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    gazza, 28 Jun 2018 @ 9:05pm

    From what I heard, the real issue behind the lawsuit was that Epic Games used knowledge gained from working with Blue Hole studio (the developers of PUBG) to get ahead of them in the market, releasing Fortnite before PUBG was fully released.

    Cited from Jim Sterling, and LoadingReadyRun CheckPoint games news show.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 28 Jun 2018 @ 9:18pm

      Re:

      In that case, they should've sued over something like contract breach, stolen trade secrets, industrial espionage...

      This would be like, PUBG thinks Epic stole its car from the garage, so they sue Epic for assault.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2018 @ 9:33pm

      Re:

      See, that's the thing.

      Copyright law doesn't protect or prevent any of the above. ryuugami's already given a good enough idea of the laws that would actually apply. Instead Blue Hole hoped that the magical "Open Sesame" properties of copyright law would give them a Hail Mary and grant them monetary settlements beyond their wildest dreams.

      The problem, of course, was that widespread application copyright law regardless of relevance is still a gamble. You still have to face a judge who may call you out on your bullshit. To be fair, that isn't a common occurrence in the realm of IP law, but it looks like Blue Hole's luck failed them this time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 Jun 2018 @ 1:36am

      Re:

      "From what I heard, the real issue behind the lawsuit..."|

      If true, maybe they should have sued about that instead of what they did sue for?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon E Mouse, 29 Jun 2018 @ 1:02am

    >pitting a hundred players against each other

    Hey, you got that part right. It's nice to see that - unlike some people you write about - you're capable of learning from mistakes. Hooray!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 29 Jun 2018 @ 1:35am

    "The problem for PUBG in all of this is that its game mode of a battle royale pitting a hundred players against each other is simply not something that fits into copyright law's protection."

    Plus, as i've mentioned before, it's literally named after the Japanese novel and movie where the idea for the game mode came from!

    Whether or not the idea is copyrightable, it's taken from somewhere else to begin with, as admitted by its author.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jun 2018 @ 5:06am

    PUBG saw that Fortnite was pulling in over $300m a month and suddenly realized they were no longer the big guy who could use their size to be a bully.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jun 2018 @ 8:49am

    If you believe that the valuable part of your product has been copied by some one else, then you need to ask yourself why they are making $300 million a month and you aren't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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