NetEase was the first company to introduce console-like battle royale games to the mobile platform. The three games that were released in 2017 were Rules of Survival, Knives Out, and Survival Royale. There was no question about the source of inspiration to these games. The goal was clear and that is to bring the PUBG experience to mobile.
Recently, court documents were obtained by Torrent Freak reveal that PUBG Corp., the developers of PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) are filing a lawsuit against NetEase for ”copyright infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair business competition.” The targeted mobile games of the lawsuit are Rules of Survival and Knives Out.
The Rolling Stone reports that in Paragraph 50 of the document, PUBG Corp. is accusing NetEase of attempting to confuse consumers into thinking that Rules of Survival is the mobile version of PUBG. According to PUBG Corp., “On information and belief, 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. On information and belief, Defendants intended to misappropriate consumer goodwill toward PUBG in order to market and gain economic benefit from ROS…”
This accusation is made due to content creators naming their Rules of Survival videos such as ”PUBG on Mobile” or ”Mobile PUBG”. While Rules of Survival is similar in nature to PUBG, it does not necessarily present itself as a mobile version of PUBG but brings the Battle Royale experience to mobile. While NetEase does have its flaws when it comes to originality, it is difficult to fault them if content creators choose to name their ROS videos inappropriately or if the consumer is confused due to the nature of the game.
Furthermore, the legal team at PUBG Corp. are taking action against NetEase because NetEase refused to acknowledge the accusations as valid. PUBG Corp. is asking NetEase to cease working on Rules of Survival and Knives Out, to remove the games, and requesting $150,000 for each infringed work for statutory damages, according to Rolling Stone. The court has yet to reach a verdict on this case.
Finally, this is a big case because PUBG Corp. is filing a lawsuit against a competitor for the first time. They did publicly disapprove of similar Battle Royale games such as Fortnite but didn’t take them to court. Fortnite, while lives up to the Battle Royale Genre, is a very different game than PUBG with unique elements that differentiates it. Moreover, NetEase has also released a similar copy to Fortnite by the name of FortCraft to mobile devices. One would argue that FortCraft has copied more from Fortnite than Rules of Survival has copied from PUBG. Stay tuned with our website for the latest news on this story.