PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is one of the hottest games right now, and because of these, there’s always a chance that some development company will take advantage of its popularity and make a clone of the game. One best example of these company is NetEase, a Chinese PC and mobile game developer who published the popular Rules of Survival mobile game.
Although PUBG Corporation said that they might take a legal action against these copycats, it seems like NetEase just ignored the warning. As expected PUBG Corporation will do something about this and they finally filed a lawsuit against NetEase.
The lawsuit that has been filed in the US District Court – Northern District of California for the complaints of copyright infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair competition for the “Rules of Survival” and “Knives Out”.
According to the case, PUBG Corporation accused that the two mobile apps have been released before PUBG’s own mobile game, PUBG Mobile, to gain market share. In doing so, NetEase copied some crucial elements without the permission from PUBG.
Here are some of the important parts of the actual complaints made by PUBG Corporation against NetEase’ Rules of Survival and Knives Out:
Copying in Rules of Survival Game
49. Rules of Survival: Rules of Survival (“ROS”) is a video game that was made and released by Defendants. ROS was released for mobile devices in the United States on or about November 14, 2017.
50. On information and belief, Defendants created ROS by copying BATTLEGROUNDS and with the intention of creating a version of BATTLEGROUNDS for mobile devices.
51. On information and belief, Defendants intended to create consumer confusion as to the source of ROS and intended to cause consumers to believe, incorrectly, that ROS had been developed by PUBG. On information and belief, Defendants intended to misappropriate consumer goodwill toward PUBG in order to market and gain economic benefit from ROS.
52. On information and belief, there has in fact been confusion in the marketplace as to the source and origin of ROS, with consumers believing, incorrectly, that ROS was developed by PUBG. For example, ROS has been referred to in the marketplace as “PUBG on Mobile,” “Mobile PUBG,” and the “BEST MOBILE PUBG”.
53. On information and belief, commentators in the industry have characterized ROS as a copy, “rip-off,” “knock-off,” or “clone” of BATTLEGROUNDS. For example, one industry commentator observed that “fans viewed the game [i.e., ROS] simply as a rip-off of the highly successful ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (‘PUBG’)” because “[e]verything about it screamed ‘PUBG’ as the majority of its elements seem to have been taken from the popular Xbox One title.” Other industry commentators have repeatedly characterized ROS as a “clone” or “knock-off” of BATTLEGROUNDS, or “[h]eavily modeled after” BATTLEGROUNDS.
54. On information and belief, the ROS app can be downloaded to a mobile device free of charge, and the ROS game can be played free of charge. On information and belief, Defendants have released ROS into the marketplace at or below cost for the purpose of gaining market share before PUBG releases BATTLEGROUNDS for mobile devices.
55. ROS contains many elements that are substantially similar to copyrightable elements of creative audiovisual expression in BATTLEGROUNDS.
Interestingly, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is not the only game that NetEase has cloned. Just a month ago, NetEase has also published FortCraft, a Fortnite Mobile clone. A week after FortCraft beta has been released, the mobile game has mysteriously removed from Google Play Store. It has been rumored that Epic Games has also taken some action against the developer.
If you’re interested in reading the whole content of the 155-page complaint from PUBG Corporation against NetEase, you can get it from here.