The PUBG publisher Krafton is taking Apple, Google and its competitor Garena to court: With its title “Free Fire”, the game developer Garena “extensively copied” protected elements of the popular Battle Royale shooter PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and thus several hundred Millions of dollars in sales, according to the lawsuit filed in a US court earlier this week (Krafton and PUBG Santa Monica vs. Apple, Google, YouTube, Sea, Moco and Garena, docket number 2:22-cv-00209, United States District Court for the Central District of California).
According to Krafton, Apple and Google also made a lot of money from the commissions on in-app purchases. Both companies could also collect “highly valuable” customer and purchasing data, since all purchases must be processed via the specified in-app purchase interface.
Copyright allegations against Free Fire and app stores
According to Krafton, the competitor Garena relies on the airdrop function at game start for its Battle Royale title, as well as a copy of the “structure of the game, the combination and selection of weapons as well as unique objects, locations and the choice of colors, materials and textures”.
According to the publisher, not only does the other game studio infringe copyright, but also the app distributors – in the form of the app store operators Apple and Google. At the end of December, the US companies were asked to stop the provision of “Free Fire”, but this was not complied with. Apple and Google are thus also liable for intentional copyright infringement.
YouTube is also suing
Krafton has also sued the Google subsidiary for providing gameplay videos on YouTube. There is also a Chinese film on YouTube that is a “live-action dramatization of Battlegrounds” – which is also a copyright infringement. Krafton demands a stop to the distribution of Free Fire and damages.
Apple does not usually intervene directly in copyright disputes in the App Store. Those affected can contact the group with a complaint, which then establishes contact with the “provider of the disputed app” – this should enable direct clarification between the parties to the dispute. However, in the case of clones of the Wordle game (not available as an app), Apple has recently acted unusually quickly: several apps have been unceremoniously thrown out of the App Store after an outcry on social media.