Creators of the famous game Playerunkown’s Battlegrounds are suing a mobile developer for copyright infringement, two games to be exact, with a lot of similarities. The games are Rules of Survival and Knives Out. Both the games were developed by a Chinese developer NetEase and released in November last year. The creators claim that both these games have features which are “constitute copyrightable subject matter”. PUBG Corp has listed several features in their lawsuit which include shrinking play area, a frying pan, and the playground phrase “winner winner, chicken dinner”.
Ars Technica has listed all the elements mentioned in the lawsuit in detail which make up the game. These include air jump, parachuting into the play area, the map of Erangel, reviving fallen teammates, the boost meter, and the ability of the player to run like an idiot in the pre-game lobby. The lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of California and it reads, “The total look and feel of Battlegrounds constitutes copyrightable subject matter”.
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The most notable claim is the frying pan.
The claim reads:
One very beloved aspect of creative expression in Battlegrounds is the game’s iconic frying pan. Previous shooter games did not include the use of a frying pan… the imaginative treatment of a frying pan as a melee weapon is made even more remarkable by its further treatment as armor against shots to the butt of a character.
Yeah, you read it right, they actually used the word “butt” in a legal document. Rules of Survival also uses a crowbar and a rubber chicken as a melee weapon in addition to the frying pan but PUBG Corp argues:
[Their] decision to include a rubber chicken as a melee weapon in ROS was made for the sole purpose of evoking the iconic ‘Winner Winner Chicken Dinner’ emblem of Battlegrounds.
They also claimed that ROS also copied their locations. These include a farm with haystacks, a rural aqueduct, a shooting range, and a dockyard with shipping containers. They claim that they all have been reproduced in the mobile game. PUBG even said that they copied the energy drink as well but as you can see:
You decide if it is copied or not? Anyways, the list of comparison goes on and on. PUBG tried to stop the developer from selling these games back in January by contacting the developer directly and they even sent legal warnings for removal of games from the Apple App Store but the developer did not take any action by saying that they didn’t do anything wrong.
A representative of NetEase Games responded to Apple and PUBG Corporation, denying that Rules of Survival and Knives Out infringe PUBG Corporation’s rights. The parties exchanged emails but made no progress toward resolving the dispute.
In my opinion, this seems like a classic case of a large corporation claiming almost everything as their asset or cloners gonna clone. Even the thing that a phrase is a synonym of their game’s phrase and causes copyright infringement sounds fishy but who am I to say anything, I’m not a lawyer and I haven’t even won a chicken dinner in my life.
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