PUBG Corp Goes For The Legal Jugular Filing Lawsuit Against Copycat iOS Games
PUBG Corp has been surprisingly quiet amid so many games hitting mobile devices, PC, and consoles that focus on very similar Battle Royale modes that it made so popular. So far all that PUBG Corp has done is rail against Epic Games' Fortnite for conflict of interest. That has changed with PUBG Corp. filing suit against a couple mobile games for iOS devices that were published by NetEase.
The two games named in the suit are Rules of Survival and Knives Out. The suit was filed in the Northern California U.S. District Court. Both NetEase games have up to 100 players parachuting onto an island. The battles focus on fighting within safe zones that constantly shrink while using military-grade weapons and armor and using a variety of vehicles to cross the island. These NetEase games were on iOS well before PUBG landed last month and they drew lots of "PUBG on iPhone" comparisons, even fans thought the games were a lot like PUBG.
PUBG Corp first complained to Apple on January 24 that the games were available in the App Store. It's not clear if PUBG Corp was trying to have those games removed from the App Store, presumably it was. Apple sent that complaint on to NetEase on January 31 where it issued a statement "denying that Rules of Survival and Knives Out infringe PUBG Corporation’s rights."
The suit has images from Rules of Survival compared directly to PUBG and they look VERY similar in many respects. The suit lists what PUBG Corp says are 25 copyrightable characteristics about its game in the form of screenshots and gameplay description. The suit states, "The use of cookware as a weapon or armor in a shooter game, the use of certain vehicles and landscapes and combinations thereof, the use of distinctive supply boxes, and the celebratory reference to chicken are elements of ornamental flair that are not functional but have acquired secondary meaning, as shown by their use by players in memes, parodies, skits and other contexts to refer to the Battlegrounds game and to its developer, i.e., PUBG."
You have to wonder if these suits against NetEase are a spin up to suing Epic Games over Fortnite. Fortnite also shares many similarities to PUBG and a win against NetEase might embolden PUBG Corp to take on Epic Games. The suit against NetEase seeks damages and to bar NetEase from operating either of the games in the future.