PUBG’s copyright lawcase against Epic Games over stolen ideas in Fortnite was dropped last night. The story comes via a story from Bloomberg.com who cannot confirm any reasons as to why the case was dropped, or if a settlement has been reached. On Monday, PUBG Corp sent a letter of withdrawal to Epic Games Inc and the following day the case closed. The case was originally build on the close resemblance between Fortnite and PUBG in the Battle Royale format. Gamers Classified first reported on the case back in late May this year, stating “with the genre growing in popularity as a result of one titles release, it is unfair to say the genre belongs to PlayerUnknown and that the idea was stolen, in the eyes of the law. ”
While there aren’t any details about the case’s dismissal, it is clear that PUBG lacked any substantial legal basis to begin with. Fortnite has become a worldwide phenomenon and is now dominating the Battle Royale genre. However, PUBG was the first to try and exploit the relatively unknown Battle Royal market. Their concerns over Fortnite ‘copying’ them were first addressed back in September 2017. Bluehole, the company who owns PUBG corporation, VP and executive producer Chang Han Kim stated “after listening to the growing feedback from our community and reviewing the gameplay for ourselves, we are concerned that Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known.”
While this might be true, there is no legal grounds for a copyright case. A genre or gametype cannot be owned by a singular entity or company. In the same way that the MOBA genre began with a Warcraft 3 mod and was popularised by the free League of Legends, Battle Royale began as an Arma 2 mod and was popularised by PUBG, and later by the free Fortnite. Had PUBG won the case, the precedent and implications would have series ramifications across the entire industry. However, the case was dropped and creative innovation in video games remains a public property.
In early April, the Korean developers alleged that NetEase’s mobile-only Battle-Royale games Rules of Survival and Knives Out violated copyright. There is no word on what will happen with these cases.