Blizzard Entertainment and Chinese games distributor NetEase have won a lawsuit seeking damages for copyright infringement regarding two knock-off titles which blatantly copied many aspects of Overwatch.
As reported by Ke Jiayun of Shine, a Shanghai-based media outlet, Blizzard and NetEase were awarded nearly four million yuan (USD $569,000) in a lawsuit against Xiamen-based publisher 4399 Network. The infringement lawsuit claimed that two of 4399 Network’s games—mobile title Clash of Fighters and an online game called Gunplay Battlefront—copied much of its content from Overwatch, including gameplay, character design, maps, and more.
4399’s defended their actions by attempting to claim that Overwatch itself contained elements from other games, and so Blizzard did not own these things and could not claim ownership of them. However, the court did not agree, and ruled in favor of Blizzard and NetEase, awarding them 3 million yuan in compensation over Clash of Fighters and a smaller award of 500,000 yuan for Gunplay Battlefront, which has been unavailable since July 2017.
While compensation of USD $569,000 may not seem substantial when one looks at the substantial size of Blizzard’s financial assets, winning such a lawsuit sends a clear message to other publishers who already have tried, or are thinking of trying the same thing. Knock-offs of popular games and franchises are a hot-seat issue, as not only do they infringe on the intellectual property of others, but they are often of sub-par quality and riddled with bugs on top of being, simply, immoral in their existence.
In addition to the four million yuan awarded for the copyright infringement itself, 4399 Network must pay for all legal fees accrued by Blizzard and NetEase as they pursued the lawsuit.
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