PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Studio Is Suing Over Fortnite

South Korea's PUBG Corp., the studio behind PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, is suing Epic Games' South Korean branch for alleged copyright infringement in Fortnite.

The popularity of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has fallen in the wake of Fortnite's success, with the game's player count cut by half. Some streamers have also turned their attention to Epic's game, casting aside PUBG, just as its getting fun again.

PUBG's New Map Is The Most Fun I've Had Since Launch

Read more

As Bloomberg reports, this isn't the first time PUBG Corp. has taken another studio to court over alleged copyright issues.

This past autumn, it sued China's Netease for its copyright claims in mobile games Rules of Survival and Knives Out.

Some PUBG Clones Are Actually Being Sued

App stores are currently overrun with battle royale games that I will generously say are heavily inspired by PUBG and Fortnite. It's a wild west out there, but amidst all the copy-catting, two games plucked from the masses are being taken to court by PUBG Corp., the company running PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

Read more

Things between Epic and PUBG Corp. are, well, rather complex. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Bloomberg points out, was made in Epic's Unreal Engine, and China's Tencent owns a share in both companies.

This latest suit is, as PUBG Corp. is quoted as saying, "a measure to protect our copyrights." Epic Games reportedly did not respond for comment.


Comments

    Interesting that they're going for Copyright infringement, given that you can't do that for 'stealing an idea' (even including specific mechanics or even near-identical UI elements) or their earlier September complaint about using PUBG's name to promote Fortnite (which is 1. Trademark, not Copyright, and 2. Not in the spirit of Trademark disputes in which the offender tries to mislead consumers into thinking the products are related, when the statement in question in fact did the opposite, noting that the devs were big fans of PUBG-style games and wanted to make their own, distinct, different one).

    From this I can only assume that they're alleging that the Unreal 4 engine team who work with licencees on engine enhancements somehow took copyrighted material from PUBG and passed it to the separate Fortnite BR team (formerly the Unreal Tournament team), to incorporate into Fortnite.

    Bit odd... you'd reckon the licencing team would be all over the legals involved, especially given their experience in court against Silicon Knights.

    Either that or they really do think they can lay claim to specific mechanics or game modes, which... well. If that isn't laughed out of court in two minutes, Bethesda stands to make some fucking hardcore cheddar pursuing pretty much every FPS ever who's copied Wolfenstein 3D/Doom's various unique, introduced game mechanics and UI elements.

    ...Or Korean Copyright law is very, very, very different to most nations' versions and this is the only place/way they could get away with this.

      I remember reading about the PUBG developers trying to say they invented the frying pan as a game object to be used in combat, personally, I don't think they have a chance because most of the work on the engine was done by Epic in house so I doubt any code was taken and FN vs PUBG assets bare zero resemblance.

        It's also kind of ass-about-backwards anyway. I mean, PUBG is consulting with Epic to get engine improvements etc to get their code to work better, but Epic can - and has - just gone off and done their own thing to make their own better. Given that one's still shit and the other's improved, it's very hard to imagine why the improved one would copy code directly from the shit one.

        Who knows. Maybe there's a critical module or script, workflow or whatever lurking under the hood which was copied directly and PUBG will have a case. But given Epic's experience with being litigated against re: engine code not meeting contractual agreements, and in fact keeping an eye out for others stealing their code and passing it off as their own, you'd have to assume they've got a fucktonne of controls on the processes and procedures that keep their noses clean.

      Or Korean Copyright law is very, very, very different to most nations' versions and this is the only place/way they could get away with this.

      Which would be rather ironic given...well Samsung.

      PUBG didn't just use Epic's gaming engine, but actively collaborated with Epic to get certain features implemented. No doubt the PUBG team required an NDA to be signed for this work. If Epic then took those same features and put them into Fortnite (which was being developed WHILE the PUBG collaboration was taking place, behind the PUBG team's backs), then there might be a reasonable case. Especially if the features being worked on were not available in the broader Unreal code base.

    Before anyone starts with the "you cant copyright a game mode" bs, its not just that - the main reason they are suing is because epic (as the engine creator) had early dev access to PUBG and decided to go behind their backs and make their own version inside of their not so successful game at the time fortnite using the knowledge they had gained from accessing PUBG.

      That's... literally still just copying a game mode. 'Stealing ideas'. Unless they stold code or assets, it's still just an idea.

        Actually, it's alot more complicated than that - they have an ongoing relationship and were under contract together throughout PUBG's development. EPIC have also been using PUBG in promoting for fortnite.

          Source(s) on Epic Games using PUBG to push Fortnite pls?

              Do you have any other sources? Something that actually backs your claim up?

              EDIT: Reason I ask is that I am struggling to find anything online, and you seem very sure about it.

              Last edited 30/05/18 10:31 am

                It's not my claim, it's PUBG corps, and saying EPIC used PUBG for promoting purposes forms part of their lawsuit against Epic. I'm sure they will elaborate further in court and we will know more after that, I am just showing the same link that kotaku thinks PUBG corp may be using to form part of that claim.

                "We've had an ongoing relationship with Epic Games throughout PUBG’s development as they are the creators of UE4, the engine we licensed for the game," says Bluehole VP and executive producer Chang Han Kim in a statement. "After listening to the growing feedback from our community and reviewing the gameplay for ourselves, we are concerned that Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known.

                "We have also noticed that Epic Games references PUBG in the promotion of Fortnite to their community and in communications with the press. This was never discussed with us and we don’t feel that it’s right. The PUBG community has and continues to provide evidence of the many similarities as we contemplate further action.""

                https://www.kotaku.com.au/2017/09/battlegroundsdeveloper-attacksfortnitefor-replicating-game/

                https://www.pcgamer.com/pubg-exec-contemplating-further-action-over-fortnite-battle-royale-similarities/

                Last edited 31/05/18 10:10 pm

                  I may have missed something as this Kotaku article makes no mention of anything you have laid out here in the comments, nor did they use the link you provided. Also, their lawsuit is mainly copyright based. I'm actually struggling to find anything online saying the lawsuit includes Epic using PUBG as a means to push Fortnite in promotional material.

                  EDIT: Had to come back since you edited your comment and I guess we're in this now;

                  I think you need to read over your original post - Lets do this together.

                  Before anyone starts with the "you cant copyright a game mode" bs, its not just that

                  we are concerned that Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known.

                  Sounds like gameplay and can only be gameplay.

                  EPIC have also been using PUBG in promoting for fortnite.

                  We have also noticed that Epic Games references PUBG in the promotion of Fortnite to their community and in communications with the press. This was never discussed with us and we don’t feel that it’s right.

                  As for using PUBG in promotions, they lay it out clearly, they don't like being referenced only. Very different to using PUBG to promote Fortnite, its referencing it only. A big distinction. Here is an example of why its a non-issue and happens frequently:

                  https://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/features/earthfall-is-a-cooperative-shooter-with-brilliant-alien-design-w518345

                  I agree with you that we definitely will get more info when the dust has settled and its best to wait for that, but the Gameplay argument is valid and actually probably the center of this. As for Epic having Developer Access, take a peek at deathjester's comment below.

                  Last edited 04/06/18 2:38 pm

              That doesn't show them using PUBG to push Fortnite that just shows it's from people who worked on both games which is unsurprising for a press release.

              Bloody hell, really? You're referring to THAT non-issue? I thought you were referring to something more recent that was actually legit.

              We love Battle Royale games like PUBG and thought Fortnite would make a great foundation for our own version.

              I've included bolded emphasis for people who have shithouse English reading comprehension and might need to go look up what those specific words mean before trying to complain about them.

              That is literally the ONLY reference to PUBG.
              CTRL+F. They use a comparison to provide context for a new mode in a blog post. There is no way the English language can reasonably stretch to consider that evidence to support that, 'Epic have been using PUBG in promoting for fortnite'.

              Christ, you might as well open up Trademark procedings any time a developer posts forum comments about which games they're taking cues or learning lessons from or differentiating themselves from. Or any time Samsung launches a TV ad saying their phones are like iPhones, but better. Use of the term, 'Spiritual Successor' would come with immediate lawsuits.

          Unless you can produce a contract signed by both showing a non-compete clause Epic can make or rework their existing game at the same time with no issues, it doesn't matter if they're partnered up.

          It's very important to understand how those relationships work.

          Imagine Epic as both owning a large-scale kitchen that leases space to external chefs, and having their own chefs who also work in those kitchens. PUBG is an external chef, who has a special recipe, and they've asked Epic for assistance on modifying the kitchen space to accommodate their special recipe - let's say, I dunno, a rockmelon pie.

          Now, the concept of putting rockmelon in a pie is not the subject of copyrighte. But in order for a rockmelon pie to WORK, you need other ingredients in place - for binding, thickening, adjusting the flavour, compensating for heat, etc.

          Copyright would have been violated if Epic kitchens handed over PUBG's recipe to their own people and said, "This is the recipe, follow it." If Epic kitchens instead say to their own chefs, "Oh hey, PUBG came up with a rockmelon pie and it's surprisingly good," and the chefs come up with the binding/thickening/flavour ingredients/steps on their own, then that's not a violation of copyright.

          Now, there are only so many ways to make a rockmelon pie work, so the recipes might look very similar, but there's a HUGE difference between Epic having handed their own chefs PUBG's pie recipe, vs Epic's chefs seeing that the pie sounds pretty awesome and they should make their own, and surprise surprise, they use many of the same ingredients and techniques, and get the kitchen modification team to modify their own ovens to better suit pie-making.

          The key to this case will be if PUBG is right and Epic chefs stole PUBG's recipe when it was provided to Epic kitchens, or if Epic chefs saw that PUBG was making a type of recipe, and came up with their own.

          (Also, the 'using PUBG to promote Epic' thing alleged by Bluehole in September was outright incorrect and thoroughly debunked and criticized for legal ignorance at the time, and I'm not aware of any other instances of PUBG's name being used to promote Fortnite any more than Samsung uses criticism of iPhone shortcomings to advertise their phones as being better. But hey, I tend to ignore most articles involving those games, so I could've missed it.)

            On re-reading, I realize this has an authoritative tone, where I should have included several disclaimers before every statement that this analogy is my assumption of the principles in play.

    I always thought that this is funny. Because the UE license specifically has this in it. So unless Bluehole has a special license, you'd think that they have absolutely no leg to stand on.

    9. Feedback and Contributions

    If you provide Epic with any Feedback, Epic is free to use the Feedback however it chooses. If you make any Contribution available to Epic, you hereby assign to Epic all right, title, and interest (including all copyright, patent, and other intellectual property rights) in that Contribution for all current and future methods and forms of exploitation in any country. If any of those rights are not effectively assigned under applicable law, you hereby grant Epic a non-exclusive, fully-paid, irrevocable, transferable, sublicensable license to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, make, use, have made, sell, offer to sell, import, modify and make derivative works based on, and otherwise exploit that Contribution for all current and future methods and forms of exploitation in any country. If any of those rights may not be assigned or licensed under applicable law (such as moral and other personal rights), you hereby waive and agree not to assert all of those rights. However, you may continue to freely use any Feedback that you provide to Epic, and you may continue to use, in any manner consistent with the License, any Contribution (including Unreal Tournament Code Contributions) that you make available to Epic. For Unreal Tournament Content Contributions, you may continue to use those Contributions only in a manner consistent with the Unreal Tournament License.

    ...

    “Contribution” means any code, whether in Source Code format or object code format, or any other information or content, that you make available to Epic by any means (e.g., via submissions to forums, wiki, or Epic’s GitHub UnrealEngine Network, or through email or otherwise). However, code, information, or content that you only make available to Epic as part of a Marketplace Submission at unrealengine.com/marketplace/submissions, and any Modified Engine Tools Package that you provide to Epic for Distribution, do not constitute Contributions. In addition, mere use of code or content with the Licensed Technology, without making that code or content available to Epic, does not constitute a Contribution.

    Now I'm not 100% sure on the legalese for that, but it sounds a lot like "if you show Epic your code, Epic now have a license to your code". Which if Bluehole have been showing Epic code to try to fix bugs or expand the engine functionality, then they'd fall straight onto that clause.

    Also I wonder how Tencent feels about their children fighting :p

      That language is bloody comprehensive. Could perhaps come down to local laws overriding civil contracts? Eg: Valve denying refunds in Australia in their terms of use.

    "a measure to protect our copyrights."

    This says to me that it's a "we know we're not going to win this, but we have to do something to satisfy the copyright clause that says we need to challenge stuff or lose our copyright enforcement capacity".

    I could be totally off the mark though.

      I thought that was trademark only... I could also be off the mark.

        Nope you're right, I got copyright and trademark law confused

    Be prudent to settle out of court considering Tencent is involved with both. Would avoid wasting a heap in legal fees.

      Epic could always just buy them, they probably should of done that from the start.

        They'll be a lot cheaper to buy now (let alone later, when they fail in the lawsuit) than they would've been to buy six to nine months ago.

          Actually Bluehole's valuation has quintupled to $4.6 billion in the last 3-4 months

            Knock me down with a feather. Market’s a bit more confident than the rest of the industry hey? Well. We’ll still see about how they’re going after the lawsuit anyway.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now