Shortly after the 2017 release of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), creator Brendan Greene has publicly expressed his exasperation with the number of developers releasing shameless clones of the then-unique game. battle royale concept and how difficult it was to stop these imitators. Now, PUBGKrafton’s Korean publisher has filed a lawsuit against one PUBG clone that he claims engaged in “widespread and willful copyright infringement” of the popular game.
In the trial, Krafton alleges that mobile hits Free fire and Free maximum fire “extensively copy many aspects of Battlefield, both individually and in combination.” These games attracted more than 100 million daily users by the end of 2020, according to the lawsuit, and brought in the majority of the company’s more than $2 billion in revenue. Singaporean publisher Garena for that year.
Krafton is also bringing Apple and Google into the lawsuit for listing the infringing game on their mobile app stores and ignoring a recent request to remove them. Additionally, Google would be responsible for hosting YouTube videos showing Free fire‘s violates the gameplay on its service.
Look and feel
Proving copyright infringement in games can be difficult, as we discussed recently when examining a wave of wordle clones on the iOS App Store. Although the specific “expression” of a game’s audio-visual elements (i.e. its “general appearance”) may be copyrightable, game mechanics and general ideas are generally not not protected by US law (although there may be exceptions where many game features are copied directly and in concert).
Krafton’s trial therefore goes into great detail setting out specific and general elements of PUBG that he says are illegally copied in Free fire. This includes everything from weapons and weapon accessories to armor, clothing, gear, backpacks, and even “the overall choice of color, material, and texture combinations.” PUBGUnique building designs also come into play, as, according to the lawsuit, “although buildings have been used in previous games, building facades and layouts in Free fire are surprisingly similar to those of Battlefield.”
Krafton also notes the similarities between the maps of the two games, which both feature “a graveyard, a port with shipping containers and a crane, a Southeast Asian coastal village, a shooting range, a small village, a farm, an airstrip, and a trestle leading to an adjacent large island, among other things.” PUBGThe village of “Pochinoki” in the game is even imitated by a village of Free fire named “Pochinok,” the lawsuit says.
Even hints of PUBGThe famous victory message “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” may be a sign of copyright infringement, according to the lawsuit. In Free fire, the game displays a roast chicken onscreen for a winning player, purportedly showing that “Garena copied Krafton’s expressive use of a chicken dinner theme to denote victory where other depictions might have been used to inject joy and fantasy into a game after winning.”
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