Bethesda Sues Warner Bros for Copying Fallout Shelter With New Westworld iOS Game

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Warner Bros' new Westworld game for mobile devices is a "blatant rip-off" of Bethesda game Fallout Shelter, according to a lawsuit Bethesda filed in a Maryland U.S. District Court this week.

At issue are the similarities between the two games. In Fallout Shelter, which was first released in 2015, you run an underground bunker in the Fallout universe, directing your bunker inhabitants to build and run new facilities, go out on expeditions, and more, with the ultimate goal of building up the bunker.


Westworld, based on the popular HBO show and released this week, uses a similar concept, with an underground Delos facility that players are required to build out to create AI hosts and satisfy guests in the park. The ultimate goal is to build up your underground Westworld facilities along with the above-ground park.


In the lawsuit, which was shared by Polygon, Bethesda accuses Warner Bros and game developer Behaviour Interactive of breach of contract, copyright infringement, unfair competition, and misappropriation of trade secrets. Behaviour Interactive worked on both Fallout Shelter and Westworld.

The Westworld game, says Bethesda, uses the same game design, art style, animations, and features as Fallout Shelter, in addition to stealing copyrighted computer code created for Fallout Shelter. As evidence for this, Bethesda claims Westworld has a unique bug that was also found in early builds of Fallout Shelter.

Fallout Shelter​

According to Bethesda, Behaviour Interactive utilized its restricted access to Bethesda's intellectual property, including copyrighted code, to reduce costs and development time to bring Westworld to market faster.
The Westworld game is a blatant rip-off of FALLOUT SHELTER. Working with the same copyrighted computer code used by FALLOUT SHELTER, Westworld has the same or highly similar game design, art style, animations, features and other gameplay elements as FALLOUT SHELTER, all of which are owned by Bethesda.

Behaviour's breach of its contract with Bethesda is evidenced by the gameplay of Westworld, which uses the same copyrighted computer code created for Bethesda's FALLOUT SHELTER game. Behaviour's use of the computer code owned by Bethesda to develop Westworld even included the very same 'bugs' or defects present in the FALLOUT SHELTER code.
It's impossible not to see the similarities between Fallout Shelter and Westworld, and as is pointed out in the lawsuit, several reviews and stories on the Westworld game that have come out over the last few months have noted those similarities. VentureBeat, for example, said in March that the "side-view user interface looks a lot like Fallout Shelter," while ShackNews said "Westworld mobile is definitely taking a page out of the Fallout book," during the same timeframe.

Westworld​

In light of the alleged intellectual property theft, Bethesda has asked the court for a jury trial, statutory damages, and actual damages, along with restitution and lawyers fees and costs. The company is also asking for every version of the Westworld mobile game to be removed from distribution.

Article Link: Bethesda Sues Warner Bros for Copying Fallout Shelter With New Westworld iOS Game
 

marcushe

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Oct 19, 2017
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Very interesting. I would think HBO will argue that their game is a type of "genre", and thus can't infringe on copyright - similar to many driving, racing, or fighting games. However it does look almost identical, and Bethesda is one of the few mobile developers with a bank account.
 

nwcs

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Congratulations. You win 10 internet points.

On topic: It sure looks like infringement. Normally I wouldn’t think they would have a chance but there’s enough here and if the bug is specific enough that was apparently duplicated they might convince someone that there’s fire with that smoke. Good luck to them, though. It’s not easy to win these.
 

CLS727

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Feb 5, 2018
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My bet is Bethesda will lose.

EDIT - Unless they actually copied code (I just read that part).

You can't defend "concepts"..... but if they can prove stolen code, that's different.

But I can't imagine it would be hard to re-create the same game with different code.
 
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nokkynuk

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Nov 15, 2017
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Reminds me how Tengen stole intellectual property from Nintendo for the '10-NES' lockout chip to manufacture unlicensed NES (famicom) games. The damning evidence was the fact that Tengen's version of the '10-NES' code had code that was later removed by Nintendo in the final iteration of the '10-NES' chips.

Tengen abused the way companies can see other companies' intellectual property by filing dubious lawsuits and asking the copyright office for a copy on a false claim (that the 10-NES code had to do with their lawsuit).
 
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Michael Goff

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Very interesting. I would think HBO will argue that their game is a type of "genre", and thus can't infringe on copyright - similar to many driving, racing, or fighting games. However it does look almost identical, and Bethesda is one of the few mobile developers with a bank account.
It's not just that it looks similar, it apparently has some of the bugs that Fallout Shelter had in the beginning. They're claiming the company that they paid to make Shelter took the code and basically sold it again.
 

sdf

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Jan 29, 2004
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On topic: It sure looks like infringement. Normally I wouldn’t think they would have a chance but there’s enough here and if the bug is specific enough that was apparently duplicated they might convince someone that there’s fire with that smoke. Good luck to them, though. It’s not easy to win these.
On the other hand, just having the same code in two places isn't proof of infringement. Behaviour Interactive's contract with Bethesda may allow this. That's up to the contract to say and the courts to interpret.

While this could be a breach of contract, it could just as easily be Bethesda trying to make things difficult to shut down something they allowed.
 

69Mustang

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Jan 7, 2014
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In between a rock and a hard place
westworld has one element that looks like fallout, but thats about it from my quick glance
C'mon bud, at least read some of the article before posting. :p:D
In the lawsuit, which was shared by Polygon, Bethesda accuses Warner Bros and game developer Behaviour Interactive of breach of contract, copyright infringement, unfair competition, and misappropriation of trade secrets. Behaviour Interactive worked on both Fallout Shelter and Westworld.

The Westworld game, says Bethesda, uses the same game design, art style, animations, and features as Fallout Shelter, in addition to stealing copyrighted computer code created for Fallout Shelter. As evidence for this, Bethesda claims Westworld has a unique bug that was also found in early builds of Fallout Shelter.

If Behavior didn't already have the relationship with Bethesda, this case might be a lot harder to prove. That code bug though... that might be the smoking gun.​
 
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kyleh22

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I'm not sure this is front page worthy on Mac Rumors...However, the precedence this case sets for the app store may be front page worthy.
 

ArtOfWarfare

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I'm not seeing Bethesda winning this. The premise of having a bunch of 2D rooms where you're a god character responsible for their happiness was already done in Tiny Tower, and I'm sure many more games before that.

The only aspect of Fallout Shelter that I think was original and copied by this Westworld game is that both take place underground instead of above ground. I don't think that's a similarity that one can sue over, though...
 

nokkynuk

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Nov 15, 2017
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I'm not seeing Bethesda winning this. The premise of having a bunch of 2D rooms where you're a god character responsible for their happiness was already done in Tiny Tower, and I'm sure many more games before that.

The only aspect of Fallout Shelter that I think was original and copied by this Westworld game is that both take place underground instead of above ground. I don't think that's a similarity that one can sue over, though...
They're alleging that they stole intellectual property (code) from fallout shelter, and used it in Westworld iOS.
 
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NamezaM

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Jul 12, 2013
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I sure hope they don't win on the concept alone, I've dumped a lot of $/effort in to Hustle Castle.
 

LawJolla

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Sep 29, 2013
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As an IP attorney that played both games, this will come down to the vagrancies of the contract. It's a complete loser as a straight up IP lawsuit.

The plaintiff faces a tough task -- all of the presumptions will be on the defendant's side.
 
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nwcs

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On the other hand, just having the same code in two places isn't proof of infringement. Behaviour Interactive's contract with Bethesda may allow this. That's up to the contract to say and the courts to interpret.

While this could be a breach of contract, it could just as easily be Bethesda trying to make things difficult to shut down something they allowed.
I would be very surprised if they had a contract that would allow it. It’s certainly possible but they would have really bad lawyers or really bad negotiators to allow for that.
 
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