PUBG Maker Sues Apple and Google for Not Removing Clone Apps

Krafton, developer popular online battle game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, or PUBG, has sued Apple, Google, and gaming company Garena over PUBG clone apps that copy PUBG gameplay, reports Reuters.

pubg
The lawsuit accuses Garena of creating PUBG clones called "Free Fire" and "Free Fire Max," which originated in Singapore and were later released in the United States. Apple and Google are named in the lawsuit for selling the "blatantly infringing version" of PUBG that was created by Garena.

As set forth in detail below, Free Fire and Free Fire Max extensively copy numerous aspects of Battlegrounds, both individually and in combination, including Battlegrounds' copyrighted unique game opening "air drop" feature, the game structure and play, the combination and selection of wearpons, armor, and unique objects, locations, and the overall choice of color schemes, materials, and textures.

Apple and Google are accused of distributing hundreds of millions of copies of the Free Fire apps, earning Garena "hundreds of millions of dollars" and netting Apple and Google a "substantial amount of revenue."

Garena's apps had more than 100 million daily users at the end of 2020, and in 2019 and 2020, Garena said that Free Fire was the most downloaded mobile game globally. Krafton estimates that Garena earned more than $2 billion in 2020, with $100 million of that coming from the U.S.

Apple on December 21, 2021 was told that Free Fire infringes on Krafton's PUBG copyrights, but Apple has not taken action to remove the game from the App Store.

The lawsuit goes into great detail on the PUBG gameplay functions that have been copied in the Free Fire apps, but ultimately Krafton is asking for damages and Apple and Google's profits from the sale of the Free Fire apps.

Krafton also had a dispute with NetEase over PUBG clones, but that lawsuit was settled in 2019, and the company also sued Epic Games over Fortnite, but ultimately dropped the lawsuit.

Apps that copy concepts and gameplay features from other apps are nothing new in the ‌App Store‌, and clone apps have long been a problem. Just this week, in fact, Apple's ‌App Store‌ allowed several clones of popular web game "Wordle" onto the App Store, only pulling them after media outcry.

Top Rated Comments

LawJolla Avatar
1 week ago
As an IP attorney, they're on solid ground here if the games are substantially similar in look and feel.

Bethesda won a nice settlement against Warner Brothers for "stealing" Fallout Shelter for their Westworld game.

If Apple/Google are knowingly profiting from an infringing product, they are liable vicariously.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chromite Avatar
1 week ago

As an IP attorney, they're on solid ground here if the games are substantially similar in look and feel.

Bethesda won a nice settlement against Warner Brothers for "stealing" Fallout Shelter for their Westworld game.

If Apple/Google are knowingly profiting from an infringing product, they are liable vicariously.
Wasn’t that because Warner bros literally used the same source code? There was a bug that was replicated
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
roar08 Avatar
1 week ago

Wasn’t that because Warner bros literally used the same source code? There was a bug that was replicated
Yes. This was a source code claim, not just a visual clone.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Michael Scrip Avatar
1 week ago

Another reason why we need alternative app stores.
But alternative app stores would have clones too... and we'd still be in this same place.

:)
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The Reverend Dr Galactus Avatar
1 week ago

As far as I was aware I didn't think you could copyright gameplay mechanics, you can only protect "artwork" and rule wording if you're talking about board games. Zynga has made a living by ripping off other games.
This is correct. I'm surprised the IP attorney in this thread hasn't commented on this aspect, but in the US (and most other jurisdictions), gameplay mechanics are covered under patent law, not copyright. Copyright only protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself, and unless Krafton applied for and received a patent for the battle royale format (possible, but highly unlikely), they have no standing for an infringement claim on the gameplay aspect whatsoever.

The only other area where they could potentially have a claim is under trademark protection. There is a legal concept called trade dress which covers the "look and feel" of a product, and the legal standard generally applied is whether a competing product causes "confusion in the marketplace;" that is, if someone could plausibly mistake your clone for the real thing.

So they might have a case for trademark infringement, there's a small chance they could have a case for patent infringement if they actually secured a software patent on battle royale (then is Epic licensing it for Fortnite?), but unless they can prove the clones use specific media or code from PUBG, copyright doesn't enter into this case.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
4jasontv Avatar
1 week ago

As an IP attorney, they're on solid ground here if the games are substantially similar in look and feel.

Bethesda won a nice settlement against Warner Brothers for "stealing" Fallout Shelter for their Westworld game.

If Apple/Google are knowingly profiting from an infringing product, they are liable vicariously.
JEEZ LawJolla, you need to be more thorough when making unpaid comments on a message board. I expect to see you discuss all points of legal address, even if it's not relevant to the conversation. You can add non-significant references to appendix B. For example, what does maritime law say about this specific situation? For each statement explain why it is or isn't relevant. Only citations made using the 19th edition of Bluebook will be accepted.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

wordle

Clones of Popular 'Wordle' Game Flooding App Store, Including One Charging $30 Per Year [Updated]

Tuesday January 11, 2022 1:39 pm PST by
If you're a regular internet user you've probably heard of popular web-based daily guessing game Wordle, created by Josh Wardle. The game, which is entirely free to play, was introduced last fall and has been spreading like wildfire. Wordle asks players to guess a five letter word by identifying which letters are in the word and are located in the right location. Players get six guesses per...
fortnite apple logo geforce feature

Fortnite Coming Back to iOS Soon Thanks to Nvidia's GeForce NOW Service

Thursday January 13, 2022 11:19 am PST by
With the Apple vs. Epic Games lawsuit continuing on, there are no signs that Apple has any intention of allowing popular battle royale game Fortnite to return to the App Store on iPhone and iPad. Epic Games has found a workaround though, by partnering up with Nvidia. GeForce NOW, Nvidia's streaming gaming service, will soon add Fortnite support, allowing Fortnite to be played through a...
samsung galaxy a21

A Samsung Galaxy A21 Smartphone Caught Fire on a Plane

Tuesday August 24, 2021 5:04 pm PDT by
An Alaska Airlines flight was evacuated on Monday night after a smartphone on the plane caught fire, reports The Seattle Times (via The Verge). A spokesperson for the Port of Seattle said that the device that was burned was a Samsung Galaxy A21. In an email to The Seattle Times, the Port of Seattle spokesperson said that the phone was "burned beyond recognition," but the passenger who owned ...
roblox logo

Department of Justice Exploring Apple's Treatment of 'Roblox' Game in Antitrust Investigation

Monday December 6, 2021 12:46 pm PST by
The United States Justice Department is investigating Apple for antitrust issues, and Roblox is an area of interest for prosecutors attempting to put together a case, reports The Information. Investigators are looking for situations where Apple is unevenly enforcing rules for app developers, and Roblox is an area of interest because of the way the app works. Roblox is an online gaming...
microsoft purchases Activision

Microsoft to Acquire Game Studio Activision Blizzard for $68.7 Billion

Tuesday January 18, 2022 6:18 am PST by
Microsoft today announced that it will purchase the game studio Activision Blizzard, the maker of hit games such as Call of Duty, Candy Crush, World of Warcraft, and more, for almost $70 billion. Microsoft says this purchase will help it "bring the joy and community of gaming to everyone, across every device." The seismic purchase for Microsoft will see several of Activision's games move to...
cydia vs apple feature

Judge Dismisses Cydia Creator's Lawsuit Against Apple For Now

Wednesday January 5, 2022 9:33 pm PST by
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers today granted Apple's motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the company by Jay Freeman, creator of an alternative App Store known as Cydia for "jailbroken" iPhones and iPads. The case might not be over yet, however, as Freeman was given the option to file an amended complaint by January 19. Freeman sued Apple in late 2020, alleging that the...
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Developers Now Able to Submit Claims for $250 to $30,000 Payments From Apple in Lawsuit Settlement

Friday January 14, 2022 12:24 pm PST by
Apple in August announced plans to pay $100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit levied by U.S. developers, and as of today, the website that will allow developers to submit a claim for a payout has gone live. The $100 million that Apple provided is being distributed as part of a "Small Developer Assistance Fund," and developers can claim between $250 and $30,000 based on their historic...
microsoft cloud gaming

Microsoft Was Willing to Bring Xbox-Exclusive Games to iPhone via xCloud

Thursday December 9, 2021 2:06 pm PST by
When Microsoft was in discussions with Apple about bringing its xCloud platform to the iPhone, Microsoft attempted to sweet talk Apple into allowing the cloud gaming service. According to emails between Microsoft and Apple executives that were unearthed by The Verge, Microsoft was willing to agree to many of Apple's demands about how the system would work, even agreeing to bring Xbox titles...

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Review: M1 Max MacBook Pro After Three Months

Wednesday January 19, 2022 11:30 am PST by
It's now been a few months since the M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pro models launched in October, and MacRumors video editor Dan Barbera has been using one of the new machines since they debuted. Over on the MacRumors YouTube channel, Dan has shared a three month review of his MacBook Pro to see how it has held up over time and how it's changed his workflow. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube ...
iphone se 2020 top

New iPhone SE Likely to Launch in April Based on Production Timeframe

Wednesday January 19, 2022 6:44 am PST by
Apple suppliers will begin producing display panels for the third-generation iPhone SE this month, with final assembly of the device likely to start in March, according to information shared by display industry consultant Ross Young. Based on this production timeframe, Young believes the third-generation iPhone SE is likely to launch in the second half of April, or perhaps in early May at...
AirPods 3 New Firmware Feature

Apple Updates AirPods 3 Firmware to Version 4C170

Tuesday January 18, 2022 11:46 am PST by
Apple today released a new 4C170 firmware update for the AirPods 3, an update from the prior 4C165 that was made available in December. Apple does not offer details on what's included in new firmware updates for the AirPods‌, so we don't know what improvements or bug fixes the new firmware brings. There is no standard way to upgrade the ‌AirPods‌‌ software, but firmware is...
iPad Air Feature 2 green

New Apple Products Filed in Regulatory Database, Likely Including New iPhone SE and iPad Air

Tuesday January 18, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Apple today filed unreleased iPhone and iPad models in the Eurasian Economic Commission database, as spotted by French blog Consomac. The filings likely represent the rumored third-generation iPhone SE, fifth-generation iPad Air, and potentially more. The unreleased iPhone models have the identifiers A2595, A2783, and A2784, while the unreleased iPad models have the identifiers A2588, A2589, ...
iphone 5g mmwave

U.S. Airlines Warn of 'Catastrophic' Crisis With Impending 5G Rollout, AT&T and Verizon Agree to Delay Around Airports

Tuesday January 18, 2022 10:35 am PST by
Verizon and AT&T's upcoming rollout of new C-Band 5G technology could cause chaos and lead to widespread delays of passenger and cargo flights, major U.S. airlines said on Monday in a letter sent to the White House National Economic Council, the FAA, and the FCC (via Reuters). "Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially...
microsoft office icons

Microsoft Releases Office for Mac Update With Full Apple Silicon Support in Excel

Tuesday January 18, 2022 4:15 am PST by
Microsoft has released a new version of its Office for Mac productivity suite that includes an updated Excel app with 100% native support for Apple silicon machines. According to the release notes accompanying version 16.57, Excel will now run natively on Macs powered by Apple's M1-series processors without having to use the Rosetta 2 translation layer, which means anyone using a Mac with an ...
appleeducation

Apple's US Education Store Now Requires Institution Verification to Buy Discounted Products

Wednesday January 19, 2022 2:22 am PST by
Apple is now requiring that customers in the United States verify that they're active students, teachers, or staff members at an educational institution in order to access education discounts on products. Previously, little verification was needed for customers to purchase products through Apple's education store in the United States. Apple's education stores offer models of the iPad and Mac ...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole thumb

ProMotion Now Expected to Remain Exclusive to iPhone 14 Pro Models, Not Expand to Entire Lineup

Sunday January 16, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Continuing the tradition set with the iPhone 13 Pro, only the highest-end iPhone 14 models will feature Apple's ProMotion display technology, according to a respected display analyst. Ross Young, who on multiple occasions has detailed accurate information about Apple's future products, said in a tweet that ProMotion will not be expanded to the entire iPhone 14 lineup and will remain...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID

Rumored iPhone 14 Pro Feature Delayed Until Next Year

Wednesday January 19, 2022 3:00 am PST by
Apple's long-rumored under-display Face ID technology will not be coming to the iPhone 14 Pro, according to recent reports. Based on the latest rumors, it now looks unlikely that the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max will feature Face ID technology under the display as several reports claimed over the past year. Display industry consultant Ross Young, who often reveals ...