Video Game Companies in Copyright Battle Royale

Fenwick lawyer Nicholas Plassaras spoke to The Recorder about the important copyright issues being disputed in the PUBG v. NetEase case involving one of the world’s most popular video games.

The maker of the video game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” alleges that the game “Rules of Survival” has copied weapons, vehicles, landscapes and an iconic weapon and body armor shaped as a frying pan. In response, the maker of “Rules of Survival” accuses “Battlegrounds” of trying to copyright ideas and “monopolize the popular ‘battle royale’ genre of video games.”

Plassaras, a member of Fenwick’s Games Industry Group (GIG), told The Recorder that the cloning dispute in this case is unique due to the complexity of the games involved and the financial stakes, given that Battlegrounds is a Triple-A title developed for PCs and consoles.

He noted that PUBG v. NetEase confronts important copyright issues, such as whether the detailed rendering of a real-world product—such as an assault rifle—is copyrightable. “That is not a straightforward issue. It’ll be very interesting to see if the court touches on it,” Plassaras said.

Plassaras said that depending on how the case is decided, it could help set a tone across the industry for what is acceptable copying and what isn’t.

The full article is available on The Recorder (subscription required).