When PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) was first released little over a year ago, it became an instant hit.
Within a month a million copies of the first public beta version were sold and this has since grown to over 28 million copies on the PC alone.
This success earned the company hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, but according to PUBG, this could have been much more if others hadn’t copied their work.
This week PUBG filed a lawsuit against NetEase, the company behind the mobile games “Rules of Survival” and “Knives Out“, accusing it of copyright infringement, unfair competition and trade dress infringement.
In a complaint filed in a federal court in California, PUBG alleges that the two mobile apps were released before PUBG’s own mobile application to gain market share. In doing so, the company copied several crucial elements without permission, PUBG adds.
The 155-page complaint lists a long summary of elements that PUBG believes are infringing on its copyrighted works. This includes buildings, landscapes, vehicles, weapons, clothing, the pre-play area, and the shrinking gameplay area.
“On information and belief, Defendants copied PUBG’s expressive depictions of the pre-play area where other depictions could have been used for the purpose of evoking the same gameplay experience depicted in BATTLEGROUNDS,” one example reads.
The games also feature PUBG’s iconic “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” salute, which is displayed to the winner of the game. In addition, both games use references to this phrase in their advertising efforts.
These and other similarities are used to confuse the public into believing that the NetEase games are developed by PUBG, the company notes, repeating the same arguments for Rules of Survival (ROS) and Knives Out (KO).
“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.”
The company highlights this point by noting that both games are regularly referred to as “PUBG” mobile in the marketplace, suggesting that there indeed is confusion.
In January, PUBG reached out to Apple asking the company to take action against the allegedly infringing applications listed in its iOS store but NetEase denied the allegations.
As a result, the company saw no other option than to file this lawsuit. In addition to monetary damages, PUBG wants both mobile games to be taken offline permanently, to shield the company from further harm.
“PUBG has suffered irreparable harm as a result of Defendants’ infringing activities and will continue to suffer irreparable harm in the future unless Defendants are enjoined from their infringing conduct,” the suit reads.
Specifically, PUBG asks the court to order NetEase “to remove each and every version of the games Rules of Survival, Knives Out, and similarly infringing games, from distribution and to cease developing and supporting those games.”
While it appears obvious that Rules of Survival and Knives Out are inspired by PUBG, it’s up to the court to determine whether the copyright infringement and unfair competition claims hold.
A copy of PUBG’s 155-page complaint, obtained by TorrentFreak, is available here (pdf). NetEase has yet to respond to the allegations.