PUBG makers file lawsuit against copy game, along with Apple and Google

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The manufacturers of PUBG-Mobile, the mobile adaptation of PUBG Battlegrounds, Apple and Google sued this week over a battle royale impersonator, sold on their mobile storefronts, that allegedly infringes PUBG’s copyrights. The lawsuit also names the maker of the copycat app, Garena Online, as well as YouTube for hosting gameplay videos that plaintiffs find infringing.

Krafton and PUBG Santa Monica, who both filed suit in US federal court, said they previously sued Garena in its home country of Singapore over the sale of Free Fire: Battlegrounds in 2017. The same game, now known as Free fire, is at the heart of the US complaint. Although Krafton said the 2017 lawsuit was settled, it did not include any license to Garena over elements of Free fire derived from PUBG.

Garena nonetheless began selling the game on Google Play and the iOS App Store in 2017, according to the lawsuit. Then, in September, Garena published Free maximum fire, another battle royale game that Krafton claims infringes the copyrights of PUBG.

Krafton’s lawsuit does not specify the damages sought, other than $150,000 in statutory damages for each violation. But he holds Apple and Google (which also owns YouTube) liable for those damages in addition to Garena. The complaint notes that “Garena has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from its worldwide sales of infringing apps,” much of which comes from the Google and Apple marketplaces.

Free fire is available on Google Play under the title Garena Free Fire Max, where it claims over 100 million installs. It is available under the same name on the iOS App Store, where it is listed at No. 48 among adventure games.

Krafton’s 100-page complaint includes several screenshots alleging Free fire copy specific items associated with PUBG since this game became popular in 2017. These include a pre-game staging area; the deployment of the parachute which begins a round; a shrinking battlefield; and supply drops and their aircraft. Many of these characteristics are present or imitated in Fortnite, Call of Duty Warzone Pacific, and other major battle royales.

But the complaint also shows that certain cosmetics and weapons associated with PUBG— like the welder style helmet and goggle featured on PUBG everyone’s mascot, as well as a frying pan – are also lifted directly into Free fire.

PUBG Corp., as lead developer of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was known at the time (and whose parent, Bluehole, became Krafton) sued fortnite manufacturer Epic Games in May 2018, alleging similar infringement of its intellectual property. That lawsuit, filed in South Korea, Krafton’s home country, was withdrawn for unexplained reasons a month later.

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