18 May 2020CopyrightRory O'Neill

Google, Apple, and Alibaba named in video game clone suit

One of the world’s biggest video game developers has sued  Google,  Apple, and an  Alibaba company for copyright infringement over an alleged “clone” of  Ubisoft’s “Rainbow Six: Siege” (RS6).

In the lawsuit, filed on Friday, May 15 at the US District Court for the Central District of California, Ubisoft accused the tech companies of “willful and deliberate” infringement of what the video game maker called some of its “most valuable” IP.

The complaint relates to Area F2, a mobile game developed by Chinese company Qookka Games, which is owned by e-commerce and tech conglomerate Alibaba Group.

Area F2 is an alleged “clone” of RS6. Video game cloning is the practice of making a new game that is extremely similar or a near-identical copy of a more well-known title. Nowadays, this often involves mobile games for smartphones and tablets.

Rights owners can find it difficult to crack down on clones because core gameplay elements are not considered to be protectable IP.

In this case, Ubisoft argued: “That Area F2 is a near carbon copy of R6S cannot seriously be disputed. Virtually every aspect of Area F2 is copied from R6S, from the operator selection screen to the final scoring screen, and everything in between.”

According to Ubisoft, the Chinese developer had: “designed and marketed AF2 in the manner it did in order to capture the attention of the millions of people that play R6S, avoid the cost and time of creating something new and original, capitalise off the creative effort of Ubisoft’s designers and developers, and take advantage of the massive investment of time and resources dedicated by Ubisoft to R6S.”

Google and Apple have become tied up in the dispute because the alleged clone is distributed on their app stores.

Ubisoft accused the tech companies of ignoring its requests to remove Area F2 and alleges they continue to make money from in-game purchases.

The R6S maker wants the alleged clone removed from online stores and an award of damages for infringement of its copyright.

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