Game Developer Lawsuits: Battle Of The Gaming Tanks

game developer lawsuits
A new game developer lawsuit raises a few questions regarding online intellectual property.

Are you ready for some football tank wars!? A game developer v. game developer lawsuit includes elements of online intellectual property and slander…kinda.

How This Game Developer Lawsuit Started

World of Tanks is a game developed by Wargaming.net. Project Tank (a.k.a., Tanks Ground War) is a game developed by China-based Gamebox. As you can probably surmise from their descriptive titles, both games deal with tanks. Apparently, though, Wargaming isn’t happy Gamebox developed a tank game too, so they’re suing for intellectual property infringement.

The Tank Game Developer Lawsuit Specifics

In their claim, Wargaming insists Project Tank is “disturbingly similar” to World of Tanks. The U.S.game developer avers Gamebox “copied the plot, theme, dialogue, mood, setting, pace, and character of World of Tanks, in addition to copying specific features, items, tanks, and artwork.”

As a result of the original game developer lawsuit, Facebook pulled Project Tank from its platform. As you’d imagine, the expulsion from the social-networking site was a blow to Gamebox’s bottom line.

Defendant’s Reaction & Counter Game Developer Lawsuit

When asked for comment about the game developer lawsuit, a representative from Gamebox explained the company’s position – and took the opportunity to snark on the big-box game development firm, Wargaming. Specifically, Gamebox opined, “we feel truly shocked and bullied by Wargaming, a giant company of the gaming industry who is apparently ‘threatened’ by a closed beta phase browser game aiming to provide a cheaper, fairer, and more accessible war game to players around the world.”

Unwilling to go quietly into that deep night, Gamebox opted to file a counter-claim. The Chinese developer is alleging “illicit competition and slander.”

What Are The Chances Of Gamebox Wining The Counter-Claim?

The illicit competition charge has some definite merit if argued well. Intellectual property infringement often turns on whether or not the alleged “theft” was of a mechanical or artistic nature. As such, in their claim, Gamebox deftly argued that any similarities between the two games are a mere result of both being video games about a similar theme. After all, a tank is a tank is a tank – the number of differing depictions of a tank are few and far between.

Another factor bolstering Gamebox’s case is Project Tank’s expulsion from Facebook. In order to win an intellectual property game developer lawsuit, it’s necessary to prove financial harm. Going on the available information, Project Tank’s makers should be able to present a very strong argument that getting kicked off Facebook hurt their business tremendously.

Their chances of winning the slander claim, however, are less auspicious. To put it simply, slander is spoken defamation and libel is written defamation. Now, there may be an element of this case that has not yet been made public, in which case Gamebox could have a strong slander case. But if we’re only looking at the facts currently available, there is a strong possibility a judge will toss the slander charge quicker than you can say “tank.”

Moreover, in most cases, accusations lodged in a formal lawsuit are considered privileged, and thus not actionable under available defamation statutes.

Do you need a game developer lawyer? Contact Kelly Warner Law. We have a strong, well-respected technology law team that deals with game developer lawsuits and litigation. Get in touch anytime.

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