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Krafton sues Garena, Apple, and Google over Free Fire copyright infringement

Demands the app be removed and damages paid

Krafton sues Garena, Apple, and Google over Free Fire copyright infringement

PUBG developer Krafton has started a new lawsuit against Free Fire developer Garena, claiming that the latter is distributing a copycat version of its battle royale title.

In the complaint, Krafton has alleged that multiple features of Free Fire and the more recent Free Fire Max infringe on copyrighted aspects of PUBG, including in-game items, weapons, and its map.

One claim in the lawsuit which addresses the "substantially similar" in-game maps alleges that Free Fire has attempted to mimic PUBG, such as the addition of a river flowing from through the map and the similarities between a coastal village in both games.

Krafton has alleged that Garena is liable for infringing on its copyrighted material from April 13 2019, and that said infringement has been "willful, intentional, and purposeful".

"Willful, intentional, and purposeful"

In the lawsuit, Krafton has stated that Apple and Google have "refused to comply" with the request that Free Fire be removed from their respective marketplaces, with both parties included in the lawsuit.

The complaint references that Garena generated $100 million in revenue from Free Fire in the first three months of 2021, from the sale of in-app purchases and subscriptions. Krafton stated that this revenue is "ill-gotten" and is the result of "wrongful sales".

A comparison between maps from the complaint

According to App Annie, Free Fire was the most downloaded battle royale game in 2021, pushing ahead of PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile. However, PUBG Mobile still maintained the highest user base of battle royale mobile titles.

Furthermore, Krafton has named YouTube as an additional defendant due to the hosting of Free Fire gameplay on its platform, as well as a Chinese film that is "nothing more than a blatantly infringing live-action dramatization of Battlegrounds".

History repeats

This isn’t the first time the PUBG developer has taken legal action against another battle royale developer. In 2018, PUBG Corp filed a lawsuit against Netease for its games Knives Out and Rules of Survival, claiming that both games were clones of PUBG and demanded the removal of both titles.

In the following months, PUBG Corp filed another lawsuit against Fortnite developer Epic Games with similar clone claims and stating that as PUBG was created in Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, Epic’s own battle royale creates a conflict of interest.

Neither Rules of Survival and Knives Out were removed from app marketplaces and both remain available. Fortnite is still available on mobile devices, however, it remains unavailable via the App Store or Google Play due to separate ongoing legal disputes.

In late December 2021, Krafton requested that Garena "revoke its apparent authorisation" to Apple and Google to allow the distribution of Free Fire and Free Fire Max, with a proposed deadline of January 5 2022.

The current complaint has requested that Free Fire and Free Fire Max sales are blocked on the App Store and Google Play and that the firm is entitled to a maximum of $150,000 for each copyright infringed.

Krafton, alongside publisher Tencent, were recently awarded $10 million from a legal battle against PUBG Mobile hackers who had distributed cheats and hacks for the game. The firms stated that any gains for the lawsuit will be put towards developing anit-cheat systems.

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