Ubisoft Sues Apple and Google Over Distribution of Alleged 'Ripoff' Game

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Ubisoft Entertainment this week levied a lawsuit against Apple and Google, accusing them of selling a "ripoff" of its popular video game Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege, reports Bloomberg.


Ubisoft filed a complaint in federal court in Los Angeles, claiming that the game "Area F2," developed by Qookka Games, is a "near carbon copy" of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege, aiming to "piggyback" off its popularity. Ubisoft said that it has notified Apple and Google that Area F2 is infringing its copyrights, but both companies have refused to remove the game from the Google Play and Apple App stores.

As one of Ubisoft's most valuable intellectual properties, Rainbow Six: Siege is played as a competitive e-sport, has 55 million registered players worldwide, and according to Ubisoft's copyright infringement claim, is played by more than three million users every day. Ubisoft argues that the lawsuit can't be "seriously disputed" and that "virtually every aspect of AF2" is copied from Rainbow Six: Siege, "from the operator selection screen to the final scoring screen, and everything in between."

Ubisoft did not elaborate on why it is suing the app store operators for enabling distribution of the game rather than developer Qookka Games itself for the initial infringement. Qookka Games, owned by Alibaba's Ejoy, is located in China, potentially making an international copyright claim more difficult. It remains unclear whether Ubisoft plans to file a separate lawsuit against the developer, in addition to app store operators.

Area F2 has over 75,000 reviews on the Google Play Store, and more than 2,000 on Apple's App Store, and many reviews on both platforms directly note the similarities to Ubisoft's title. Google and Apple have not yet responded to Bloomberg's requests for a comment.

Article Link: Ubisoft Sues Apple and Google Over Distribution of Alleged 'Ripoff' Game
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,326
13,683
In between a rock and a hard place
Ubisoft is suing the distributors (Apple and Google) to block the distribution and sale of the game. They're doing that because they know they don't stand a chance of a favorable outcome against Alibaba in a Chinese court.

It will be interesting to see the responses from Apple and Google. One of them desperately wants to get back into China (Google) and the other desperately wants to stay in China (Apple).
 

JimAtLaw

macrumors 6502
Sep 26, 2006
274
12
Bay Area, CA
Ubisoft is suing the distributors (Apple and Google) to block the distribution and sale of the game. They're doing that because they know they don't stand a chance of a favorable outcome against Alibaba in a Chinese court.

It will be interesting to see the responses from Apple and Google. One of them desperately wants to get back into China (Google) and the other desperately wants to stay in China (Apple).
And to be clear, by taking a cut of sales on the App Store, if it was properly notified and did not act, a platform maker like Apple, who controls the distribution channel for its platform, is directly and deliberately profiting from the infringement. If Apple is aware of it and continues to sell it, they have a potential problem.
 

thedarkhalf

macrumors member
May 15, 2008
57
67
And to be clear, by taking a cut of sales on the App Store, if it was properly notified and did not act, a platform maker like Apple, who controls the distribution channel for its platform, is directly and deliberately profiting from the infringement. If Apple is aware of it and continues to sell it, they have a potential problem.
This is where it may all fall apart. The only thing I found about it is from gamerant

"The report stated that Ubisoft had originally brought its complaints to Apple and Google directly"

I would assume there's a proceedure that needs to happen at either Apple or Google for them to process this request. Maybe Ubisoft didn't follow proceedure. Or didn't even do it at all. Shouldn't this be done with a DMCA takedown request?
 

Marco0107

macrumors member
Feb 3, 2017
41
54
Atlanta, GA
This is where it may all fall apart. The only thing I found about it is from gamerant

"The report stated that Ubisoft had originally brought its complaints to Apple and Google directly"

I would assume there's a proceedure that needs to happen at either Apple or Google for them to process this request. Maybe Ubisoft didn't follow proceedure. Or didn't even do it at all. Shouldn't this be done with a DMCA takedown request?
You nailed it. This where Apple and Google could be culpable. I wonder what dollar amounts Google and Apple have made off the sale of the game? And how much before being notified versus after.
 

dawhol9

macrumors newbie
Sep 17, 2002
25
71
And to be clear, by taking a cut of sales on the App Store, if it was properly notified and did not act, a platform maker like Apple, who controls the distribution channel for its platform, is directly and deliberately profiting from the infringement. If Apple is aware of it and continues to sell it, they have a potential problem.
Not so fast. Apple is not the person to determine ownership of intellectual property if there is a dispute. Thats the job of the courts. If a lawsuit were to happen between the two parties over ownership a judge could grant an injunction to NOT PAY those Royalties because the results of the copyright lawsuit is pending..but they are not suing for ownership...they are suing Apple for distributing what someone else claims is theirs. Losing case, and they know it. Wouldnt be surprised if this got thrown out. They are hoping the negative press will make Apple and Google remove it so no money is made from it. Imagine if I said..Hey that Emimen song sounds like mine. Suing Apple because its on AppleMusic...and every other streaming service as well...and also any record store that sells Eminem...not how it works. I gotta sue Marshall Mathers and get the money owed to me FROM HIM. Apple has ZERO responsibility to investigate ownership since to get it into the App Store you are saying you legally own it, and if you dont YOU are liable for damages and possibly jail time.
 

Justanotherfanboy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 3, 2018
795
1,308
While I am not a lawyer...
This seems like a weird move to try to put the impetus on Apple/Google to be the arbiters of what are “safe” similarities and what are not.... none of the app submissions guys working at Apple or Google passed the bar, worked their way up to being a judge, and have clear & definitive knowledge of copyright nuances in every area they operate in.

Think of it like this:
Wrangler starts using Levi rivets in their jeans, so Levis sues............ Walmart?
- - Post merged: - -

Not so fast. Apple is not the person to determine ownership of intellectual property if there is a dispute. Thats the job of the courts. If a lawsuit were to happen between the two parties over ownership a judge could grant an injunction to NOT PAY those Royalties because the results of the copyright lawsuit is pending..but they are not suing for ownership...they are suing Apple for distributing what someone else claims is theirs. Losing case, and they know it. Wouldnt be surprised if this got thrown out. They are hoping the negative press will make Apple and Google remove it so no money is made from it. Imagine if I said..Hey that Emimen song sounds like mine. Suing Apple because its on AppleMusic...and every other streaming service as well...and also any record store that sells Eminem...not how it works. I gotta sue Marshall Mathers and get the money owed to me FROM HIM. Apple has ZERO responsibility to investigate ownership since to get it into the App Store you are saying you legally own it, and if you dont YOU are liable for damages and possibly jail time.
THIS! 1000x
This would set a bizarre precedent & open the floodgates forcing Apple to hear every perceived grievance.
I wonder how long app submissions would take if Apple employees in that department were spending 99% of their time responding to thousands of claims from devs that competitors are too much like them, & busy trying to cross reference every single other app that has come out in the past decade to scour for similarities, so they don’t get sued.
 
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roar08

macrumors regular
Apr 25, 2008
213
411
Not so fast. Apple is not the person to determine ownership of intellectual property if there is a dispute. Thats the job of the courts. If a lawsuit were to happen between the two parties over ownership a judge could grant an injunction to NOT PAY those Royalties because the results of the copyright lawsuit is pending..but they are not suing for ownership...they are suing Apple for distributing what someone else claims is theirs. Losing case, and they know it. Wouldnt be surprised if this got thrown out. They are hoping the negative press will make Apple and Google remove it so no money is made from it. Imagine if I said..Hey that Emimen song sounds like mine. Suing Apple because its on AppleMusic...and every other streaming service as well...and also any record store that sells Eminem...not how it works. I gotta sue Marshall Mathers and get the money owed to me FROM HIM. Apple has ZERO responsibility to investigate ownership since to get it into the App Store you are saying you legally own it, and if you dont YOU are liable for damages and possibly jail time.
This is truth. Apple and Google are required to act on judgment by the court, not be judges.
 

V.K.

macrumors 6502a
Dec 5, 2007
587
254
Toronto, Canada
Not so fast. Apple is not the person to determine ownership of intellectual property if there is a dispute. Thats the job of the courts. If a lawsuit were to happen between the two parties over ownership a judge could grant an injunction to NOT PAY those Royalties because the results of the copyright lawsuit is pending..but they are not suing for ownership...they are suing Apple for distributing what someone else claims is theirs. Losing case, and they know it. Wouldnt be surprised if this got thrown out. They are hoping the negative press will make Apple and Google remove it so no money is made from it. Imagine if I said..Hey that Emimen song sounds like mine. Suing Apple because its on AppleMusic...and every other streaming service as well...and also any record store that sells Eminem...not how it works. I gotta sue Marshall Mathers and get the money owed to me FROM HIM. Apple has ZERO responsibility to investigate ownership since to get it into the App Store you are saying you legally own it, and if you dont YOU are liable for damages and possibly jail time.
Exactly. App store has always been full of absolutely blatant ripoffs of successful games. I imagine the same is true of the Play Store. Apple and Google are being dicks for not cracking down on this practice but I don't see how they can be held liable. The original devs would need to sue the devs of the copycat games and if they win in court then they can demand that Apple and Google remove the infringing game from their stores. Until that happens Apple and Google would appear to be legally safe to me.
 

4jasontv

macrumors 68020
Jul 31, 2011
2,383
2,425
You nailed it. This where Apple and Google could be culpable. I wonder what dollar amounts Google and Apple have made off the sale of the game? And how much before being notified versus after.
Pretty sure you have to notify an employee.Why would Ubisoft need to jump through the hoops of someone they are taking legal action against. It should be sufficient to have taken it in writing to an Apple Store.
 

Justanotherfanboy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 3, 2018
795
1,308
So I’m curious what everyone thinks: is it ok to profit from someone else’s illegal activity until they/you get caught?
Not at all!!!!
As soon as it is PROVEN illegal in a court of law, it should be pulled immediately- according to the judgement.

I believe you meant: “shouldn’t they take a company’s word for it & take action sans a legal imperative”... to which the answer is- absolutely not.
They are NOT judges.
Like, what if you were wrong when you claimed my app was too much like yours? (in this hypothetical world the 2 of us are competitive devs, btw 😉); and Apple unfairly pulls mine? See the issue?
Apple must play judge, jury, & executioner in your scenario... listen to both sides present evidence, make a decision, etc.
There’s already a system in place for this- the LEGAL system.
Suggesting Apple should attempt to usurp their position is wild- what’s in it for them? To hire an absolute fleet of lawyers to vet apps for them? What a phenomenal & arduous task!
That in no way falls in their purview.
 

PinnyHead

macrumors newbie
Apr 2, 2019
13
14
If I read the headline “Ubisoft sues eJoy”...my first thought wouldn’t be that it was because a game was directly copied...my first thought would be “I can’t read this on my work computer”
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,326
13,683
In between a rock and a hard place
This is truth. Apple and Google are required to act on judgment by the court, not be judges.
This is 100% not true. Apple and Google can make a decision regarding any app in their app stores without a judgment by the court. They do it all the time. There have been numerous articles on MR and other tech sites about Apple removing apps, removing and reinstating apps, requiring apps to modify function. Both companies can make a decision to remove the offending app at anytime with no input from the courts.
Not so fast. Apple is not the person to determine ownership of intellectual property if there is a dispute. Thats the job of the courts. If a lawsuit were to happen between the two parties over ownership a judge could grant an injunction to NOT PAY those Royalties because the results of the copyright lawsuit is pending..but they are not suing for ownership...they are suing Apple for distributing what someone else claims is theirs. Losing case, and they know it. Wouldnt be surprised if this got thrown out. They are hoping the negative press will make Apple and Google remove it so no money is made from it. Imagine if I said..Hey that Emimen song sounds like mine. Suing Apple because its on AppleMusic...and every other streaming service as well...and also any record store that sells Eminem...not how it works. I gotta sue Marshall Mathers and get the money owed to me FROM HIM. Apple has ZERO responsibility to investigate ownership since to get it into the App Store you are saying you legally own it, and if you dont YOU are liable for damages and possibly jail time.
Unfortunately, everything you wrote is wrong. IANAL but I know it's 100% the responsibility of Apple and Google (A/G) to ensure the apps in their respective stores aren't violating IP laws. Not ZERO. Just like it's the responsibility of a brick & mortar store owner to ensure they aren't selling counterfeits. Ubisoft says they notified both companies and neither removed the game. Neither did. Which apparently lead Ubisoft to sue to block distribution. Most likely what they thought to be the most effective way to ensure EJoy doesn't unfairly benefit from Ubi's IP.

Your music analogy was a poor choice. If you said a song from Slim Shady sounded like yours, you'd have recourse in the DMCA. In this hypothetical, you could request to have the song taken down from iTunes, Youtube, Spotify, etc.

"Suing Apple because its on AppleMusic...and every other streaming service as well...and also any record store that sells Eminem...not how it works." - you

↑↑↑ - "That's exactly how it works." - me

Ubisoft in real life, and you in your hypothetical, could potentially sue anyone in the distribution chain including end users.
 

TiggrToo

macrumors 68000
Aug 24, 2017
1,969
4,464
Out there...way out there
"Ubisoft said it has notified Apple and Google that Area F2 is infringing its copyrights but the companies have refused to remove the game from the Google Play and Apple App stores."

Question I would ask is, was there a DCMA Takedown notice issued to both Apple and Google? Not seeing that language in the original article.
 
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pasamio

macrumors member
Jan 22, 2020
55
37
If they're suing for copyright infringement then they need to have copied assets or similar. Now it's possible that's the case but if they made a game that looks and feel very similar with their own resources and assets then that isn't copyright infringement because you can't copyright an idea, you patent an idea. It is unlikely they have a patent because in many respects CS could be considered prior art in the space and easily dismissible. You might try to patent a novel game mechanic but again that's a different sort of dispute.

The standard would be to issue a DMCA take down to Apple and Google on the work. Both companies refusing to take down the work would mean waiving their safe harbor protections but that is only problematic if the work is found to have been in breach of copyright.

This makes me wonder if both companies file to dismiss the suit as the copyright infringer is not Apple or Google but eJoy. Hopefully next week we can see the actual filing online somewhere to see what is actually being claimed instead of what is a press release from Ubisoft released late on a Friday. Slimy much?
 

DeepIn2U

macrumors 604
May 30, 2002
7,033
2,284
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Ubisoft is suing the distributors (Apple and Google) to block the distribution and sale of the game. They're doing that because they know they don't stand a chance of a favorable outcome against Alibaba in a Chinese court.

It will be interesting to see the responses from Apple and Google. One of them desperately wants to get back into China (Google) and the other desperately wants to stay in China (Apple).
still they should bring the lawsuit to Qookka Games 1st. Then as court goes to trial or validates the lawsuit then bring a cease and desist to Apple and Google for this stores for distribution.

now if only I can get rainbow six urban ops classic for OS X or iOS! :) those where the simple days where a simple 8MB of video ram of an ATi laptop video card was sufficient to play with @home internet cable edition on a Cable modem. Just hated getting smoked by 1ghz Athlon PC guys.
 

dawhol9

macrumors newbie
Sep 17, 2002
25
71
This is 100% not true. Apple and Google can make a decision regarding any app in their app stores without a judgment by the court. They do it all the time. There have been numerous articles on MR and other tech sites about Apple removing apps, removing and reinstating apps, requiring apps to modify function. Both companies can make a decision to remove the offending app at anytime with no input from the courts.

Unfortunately, everything you wrote is wrong. IANAL but I know it's 100% the responsibility of Apple and Google (A/G) to ensure the apps in their respective stores aren't violating IP laws. Not ZERO. Just like it's the responsibility of a brick & mortar store owner to ensure they aren't selling counterfeits. Ubisoft says they notified both companies and neither removed the game. Neither did. Which apparently lead Ubisoft to sue to block distribution. Most likely what they thought to be the most effective way to ensure EJoy doesn't unfairly benefit from Ubi's IP.

Your music analogy was a poor choice. If you said a song from Slim Shady sounded like yours, you'd have recourse in the DMCA. In this hypothetical, you could request to have the song taken down from iTunes, Youtube, Spotify, etc.

"Suing Apple because its on AppleMusic...and every other streaming service as well...and also any record store that sells Eminem...not how it works." - you

↑↑↑ - "That's exactly how it works." - me

Ubisoft in real life, and you in your hypothetical, could potentially sue anyone in the distribution chain including end users.
Nope you are 10000% incorrect.

You say Apple takes things down and makes people change apps all the time. Yes they do because they have not adhered to APPLES rules on Apps. NEVER for copyright infringement WITHOUT a court judgement. I know this PERSONALLY.

Please show me instances of Apple removing an App because it was too similar to another app? If so why are there hundreds of Solitaire games? They are all similar....

Apple is NOT required by law to go through every app and DECIDE whether its too close to another app. Its not their job and thats what a court is for.

Again you are wrong when it comes to a music copyright. If my song sounded like a Slim Shady song, I can REQUEST it to be removed from everywhere (anyone can request anything ...free country) but guess what...NO ONE WOULD have to do anything because a dispute in ownership has to be decided in a court of law.

Remember the Robin Thicke "Blurred Lines" case. Well Marvin Gaye's estate said the song sounded too much like a Marvin Gaye song. Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams who wrote it said no it was different. iTunes didnt stop selling it. No one pulled it. No one stopped streaming it. No brick and mortar store stopped selling it. Not one of those entities were sued. Marvin Gaye's estate sued the WRITERS of that song for copyright infringement. It went to court and Marvin Gaye's estate was awarded millions from Robin Thicke and Pharrell NOT iTunes or any store for selling it. No store got sued and no one pulled it. Not Apple's job.

Countefeit goods has ZERO to do with Copyrights. Its illegal to sell counterfeit and if a store is doing so, they can be sued as well as arrested. That has nothing to do with this.

The game in question isn't a counterfeit. It's not calling itself Rainbow 6 by Ubisoft. Its a game that is similar. Is it too similar? Thats what a court decides.

Here is a good one...what if...the developer of game #1 leaves the company they worked for and takes his code with him as part of his agreement with that company. That code is then sold to another company and they release game #2 with that code. Its similar because its the same code...but it was purchased legally...is that copyright infringement?

That's what the legal system is for. It may be far more complex than it is on the surface. Apple didnt remove it because unless a court has said its copyright infringement then it isn't.

When Microsoft released Windows...did Apple sue every computer store for selling it? No they sued Microsoft for copyright infringement.
 
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