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Game maker says Apple, Google selling rip-offs in new lawsuit

2 minute read

REUTERS/Thomas White

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  • Maker of popular game says Singapore company copied it
  • Apple, Google sued for distributing alleged copycats

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(Reuters) - The maker of the popular game "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" says in a new U.S. lawsuit that a Singapore-based company made rip-off versions of its game, and Apple and Google have refused to stop selling them.

Krafton Inc alleged Monday in a Los Angeles federal court complaint that Garena Online's "Free Fire" games copy several copyrighted aspects of PUBG: Battlegrounds, including its game structure and in-game items, equipment, and locations.

Released in 2017, Battlegrounds was one of the first and most successful "battle royale" games, a popular genre that now includes "Fortnite" and "Call of Duty: Warzone." Korea-based Krafton's complaint said Battlegrounds has sold more than 75 million copies.

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The complaint said Garena, owned by Singapore-based Sea Ltd, began selling Free Fire through Apple and Google's app stores in 2017, and started selling another infringing game called "Free Fire MAX" last year.

According to Krafton, Apple and Google have distributed hundreds of millions of copies of the Free Fire games. The complaint says Garena generated more than $100 million in revenue from Free Fire sales in the U.S. in the first three months of 2021.

Krafton also named Google's YouTube as a defendant for allegedly hosting videos of Free Fire gameplay, as well as a Chinese film that Krafton says is a live-action dramatization of its game.

Krafton said it asked Garena, Apple, and Google to stop selling the Free Fire games in December to no avail. It asked the court to block sales of the Free Fire games in addition to requesting damages that include the companies' profits from Free Fire sales.

The companies and Krafton's attorneys didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is Krafton Inc v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 2:22-cv-00209.

For Krafton: David Enzminger of Winston & Strawn

For the defendants: N/A

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Washington-based correspondent covering court cases, trends, and other developments in intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Previous experience at Bloomberg Law, Thomson Reuters Practical Law and work as an attorney.

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