PUBG is suing Fortnite, again.
Bluehole interactive’s PUBG Corps has allegedly filed a lawsuit against Epic Games Korea for copyright violation. Earlier this year, PUBG Corps filed an injunction against Epic Games in South Korea.
The claim was that Fortnite had made infringements on their Battle Royale concept; however, this initially failed. Put simply, PUBG is suing Fortnite for using elements of the Battle Royale genre.
While the lawsuit is a big deal, it isn’t a worldwide copyright claim. The outcome of that is only the Seoul Central District Court will be making the ultimate decisions.
This lawsuit has coincided with Fortnite’s release in South Korea, and it is clear that Bluehole is worried that they will lose out on a significant chunk of players interested in Battle Royale titles.
In fact, last year Bluehole VP and executive producer, Chang Han Kim, had this to say:
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.”
Incredibly though, PlayerUnkown’s Battleground’s uses the Unreal Engine, which was created by Epic Games.
Does PUBG have a case?
My knowledge of South Korean video game copyright law isn’t quite up to scratch. I do, however, have a wider understanding of copyright and media law, for that matter.
Bluehole does have a case, in a way. In a promotional video for Fortnite, the development team specifically claimed:
We love battle royale games like PUBG and thought Fortnite would make a great foundation for our own version.”
This is potentially the most unequivocal evidence that there has been some infringement.
The question the Seoul Central District Court has to answer is; does inspiration equate to an explicit breaking of copyright law?
In tandem to this, there is possibly a much bigger claim which would be incredibly hard for PUBG Corps to prove.
As PUBG runs on the Unreal Engine, Epic could have analysed and imitated shooting mechanics, or net code, for their own Battle Royale game.
Epic has a history of being sued for similar moves before, including a claim from Silicon Knights. However, Epic won more than $4m in copyright infringement from this case.
While that case caused Silicon Knights to file for bankruptcy, Epic is able to settle a large sum if it will keep the people at PUBG quiet.
In fact, Chinese investors Tencent have put more than $470m into the game’s development, so they could quickly cover legal costs.
Honestly though – Is it a copy?
Unless Epic Games have lifted code, or indeed anything else from their rivals, it is safe to say that Fortnite and PUBG won’t be closing each other down anytime soon.