Apple & Google sued by 'PUBG: Battlegrounds' developer over clones

Posted:
in iOS
The developer of "PUBG: Battlegrounds" is suing Apple and Google for refusing to stop selling alleged ripoffs on the App Store and Google Play Store.

Battlegrounds
Battlegrounds


South Korean game developer Krafton Inc, together with US-based PUBG Santa Monica, have filed a suit in the District Court for the Central District of California. The suit surrounds copyright infringement and requests trial by jury.

According to Reuters, Krafton claims that its "Battlegrounds" was launched in 2017 and a Singapore firm named Garena began selling a copy. That issue was seemingly settled between the companies, but Garena nonetheless developed a mobile app version.

"Also in 2017, Defendants Apple and Google began selling this blatantly infringing mobile version of Battlegrounds," says the suit. "This infringing app was originally called Free Fire: Battlegrounds and is now called Free Fire."

Subsequently in September 2021, Garena released a second app that "also blatantly copies Battlegrounds." In December 2021, Krafton asked Garena to stop sales of the games, and requested that Apple and Google cease distribution of them.

The two platforms did not remove the games. Krafton now claims that Apple and Google's failure "to address legitimate claims" means that they employ only "selective enforcement of copyright."

Krafton also claims that YouTube, owned by Google, is allegedly hosting videos of gameplay with the alleged copycat games. The suit notes that there is a Chinese film that is a live-action movie of the game.

The "Battleground" developer's claim is only the latest of many accusations that Apple and Google allow clones of successful apps.

The most recent example was the exploitation of free online Wordle game with paid-for app versions. At least the majority of those copies have now been purged from the App Store, however.

PUBG sued Tim Sweeney's Epic Games for similar reasons in 2018. At the time, the company had "growing concerns" about the similarities between it and "Fortnite."

The suit was eventually dropped. Both companies are partly owned by Tencent, so it was likely that a deal was struck internally to end the matter.

PUBG Battleground Sues Apple, Google by Mike Wuerthele on Scribd

(function() { var scribd = document.createElement("script"); scribd.type = "text/javascript"; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = "https://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    Don’t you have to prove a copyright infringement in court before asking someone to take down a product?   It would be valid if you proved infringement and someone refused to take it down. But private companies shouldn’t be in the business of adjudication.  It’s a completely different matter to have a movie song or game on your site to which the owner of the copyright has not put them there
    JaiOh81williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 7
    The code of the game can be copyrighted and so can the audio/visual design of the game. The audio/visual copyright is specific to things like music, character design etc. For example, PUBG can't claim the battle royale aspect or parachuting onto an island or the timers etc. is under copyright protection. The name of the game itself can be trademarked, but not copyrighted. It's possible PUBG could argue that the use of 'Battlegrounds' in the knock-off app caused confusion with customers.
    tenthousandthingswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 7
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,218member
    Why don't they sue the developer? Oh, thats right Apple and Google have more money. 
    edited January 13 williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 7
    macxpress said:
    Why don't they sue the developer? Oh, thats right Apple and Google have more money. 
    Similar to how a store can't argue to "sue" the manufacturer of knock off products they're selling. If you knowingly allow knock-offs to be sold in YOUR store, YOU are responsible. Simply put, you can't keep profiting off knock-offs, and then when the authorities come calling just plead ignorance.

    Question is, what exactly does the App Store have that's a copyright infringement of PUBG? Unless Garena stole their exact code and Apple knowingly allowed them to repost that code under a different app name, I don't see how anyone is at fault. As far as I can tell, all these are just battle Royale based games which isn't copyrighted. 
    tenthousandthings
  • Reply 5 of 7
    An interesting case. The clone came out on mobile before the original. The clone has tens of millions of active players, but the mobile version of the original is even more successful, with billions of downloads and billions in revenue. 

    I doubt it’s a coincidence that the original (non-mobile) game is moving to a free-to-play model this month. Both the clone and the original have always been free-to-play on mobile. But now the main game is going that way. This seems like a message to other platforms, saying we’ll sue you if you let the clone onto your platform now that we’re both free-to-play. 

    NOTE: I’m using the term “clone” loosely here. I don’t know the answer to Shareef’s question above. I think it’s unlikely they can prove code was stolen, because if so the clone would would have been shut down years ago outside of China. It’s more of an intellectual-property claim. That’s why they want a jury.
    edited January 13 watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 7
    NOTE: I’m using the term “clone” loosely here. I don’t know the answer to Shareef’s question above. I think it’s unlikely they can prove code was stolen, because if so the clone would would have been shut down years ago outside of China. It’s more of an intellectual-property claim. That’s why they want a jury.
    If not the code, then they'll need to find specific copying of audio/visual elements. The gameplay aspect can't be treated as IP. Players running around in an open world using customizable weapons/outfits can't be copyrighted. If it were, PUBG itself would be guilty of copyright violation relative to prior shooters. 
    edited January 13 watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 7
    NOTE: I’m using the term “clone” loosely here. I don’t know the answer to Shareef’s question above. I think it’s unlikely they can prove code was stolen, because if so the clone would would have been shut down years ago outside of China. It’s more of an intellectual-property claim. That’s why they want a jury.
    If not the code, then they'll need to find specific copying of audio/visual elements. The gameplay aspect can't be treated as IP. Players running around in an open world using customizable weapons/outfits can't be copyrighted. If it were, PUBG itself would be guilty of copyright violation relative to prior shooters. 
    Ars Technica has an article today with a bit more detail, with some comparisons: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2022/01/pubg-maker-sues-mobile-clone-apple-google-for-copyright-infringement/

    If they can get it into the hands of a jury, then maybe? 
    watto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.