Over the weekend, word has come out that Ubisoft has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles against Apple and Google, claiming copyright infringement over a Chinese clone of their title Rainbow Six Siege.
According to a story posted early Friday evening on Bloomberg, the mobile game Area F2, developed by Chinese app developer Ejoy and published by Alibaba, is a “near carbon copy” of Rainbow Six Siege. The complaint indicates Ubisoft attempted to contact both Google and Apple to have the game removed on copyright infringement grounds but was denied.
As one would expect, neither Ubisoft nor Google or Apple is going to make any statement regarding pending litigation other than the fact it has been initiated.
Arguably, there have been some rather infamous examples of intellectual property violations from Chinese firms in the past, particularly concerning video games (the theme park which recreates World of WarCraft immediately springs to mind). Just as arguably, Rainbow Six Siege makes use of several elements that cannot be copyrighted, such as gameplay mechanics and real-world weapons.
If, as some have speculated, Ubisoft does not believe it can prevail by suing Ejoy and Alibaba owing to their location, then suing Apple and Google to get Area F2 off their storefronts represents an attempt to at least put a crimp in sales.
Ultimately, this is going to be as much a test case as anything else. In theory, if Ubisoft prevails in the case and does force Apple and Google to remove the game from their storefronts, they would have a precedent to go after third-party storefronts and force them to remove Area F2 as well.
Potentially, a win by Ubisoft could even pave the way for the direct copyright infringement lawsuit the company is currently unwilling to file. If Ubisoft does not win the case, it may lead to an explosion of cheap knockoffs, some of which might stray into direct copyright infringement instead of the “contributory” infringement Ubisoft is currently trying to prove.