October 27, 2017, Epic Games, Inc. (“Epic”) sued three foreign individuals–James Mendes, Konstantin Vladimirovich Rak, and Oleksey Olekseevich Stegailo–for copyright infringement, trademark infringement, false designation of origin, breach of contract, and, under California law, unfair competition.  Epic alleges that the defendants were distributing and popularizing cheats for the game Fornite.  This suit may sound familiar: Epic filed similar suits against other alleged Fortnite hackers on October 11 and on October 17.

Epic’s strategy in this case is similar to its strategy in its suit against Philip Josefsson and Artem Yakovenko: file a DMCA complaint against a video demonstrating the hacks, wait for the defendant to file a counter-notification, and use the counter-notification as basis for suing the defendant in a U.S. court.  The timing of Epic’s lawsuits appears to be the result of the timing of the defendants’ counter-notification.
On October 17, 2017, Epic Games sued Philip Josefsson and Artem Yakovenko for copyright infringement, trademark infringement, false designation of origin, breach of contract, and, under California law, unfair competition. 

The allegations against Josefsson and Yakovenko are similar to those made against Brandon Broom and Charles Vraspir.  Specifically, Epic alleges that Josefsson and Yakovenko created, marketed, and distributed cheats for Fortnite

Interestingly, Epic claims that both defendants, who do not live in the United States, consented to venue in the United States by participating in the YouTube DMCA notification/counter-notification process.  Mr. Josefsson is a resident of Sweden, and Mr. Yakovenko is a resident of Russia.  Both defendants posted YouTube videos displaying their cheats, and Epic filed DMCA notifications against those videos to take them down.  Both Josefsson and Yakovenko filed counter-notifications against Epic’s DMCA notifications.  Because Josefsson and Yakovenko, per the terms of the counter-notification, thereby “consent[ed] to . . . if my address is outside of the United States, the judicial district in which YouTube is located,” Epic argues in its complaint that both parties consented to be sued in the Northern District of California. 

This suit appears to be the latest in a string of suits by Epic to take “every measure to ensure [that] cheaters are removed from Fortnite Battle Royale.
On October 11, Epic Games, Inc. and Epic Games International (“Epic”) sued individuals Brandon Broom and Charles Vraspir in two separate suits (5:17-CV-0511 and 5:17-CV-0512) for copyright infringement, circumvention of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), breach of contract, and intentional interference with contractual relations.  The suits, filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina, relate to Epic's game Fortnite.

Epic alleges that Broom and Vraspir not only cheated in Fortnite, but also assisted others in doing so on the website  When cheating themselves, Broom and Vraspir allegedly intentionally targeted Fortnite streamers (i.e. “stream sniping”) because, allegedly per Vrapsir, “its [sic] fun to rage and see streamers cry about how loaded they are and then get them stomped anyways.”  Epic’s complaints seem to suggest that Vraspir was particularly aggressive on cheating in Fortnite because he was banned from Fortnite: allegedly per Vraspir, his ban “unleash[ed] the beast” such that “Epic will have to take care or their game will die.”

Fortnite’s popularity in recent weeks has exploded since a recent free mode released which, some allege, provides a game mode duplicative of the massively popular PlayerUnknown’s BattlegroundsSome speculated that Bluehole, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ developer, might explore a suit against Epic (indeed, Bluehole issued a public press release complaining about the similarities); however, Bluehole’s extensive reliance on Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 and ongoing licensing relationship with Epic makes such a suit seemingly unlikely.
On October 4, 2017, Landmark Networks, LLC (“Landmark”) sued Nintendo Co. and Nintendo of America (“Nintendo”) for alleged infringement of two networking patents: U.S. 6,856,966 and U.S. 6,018,720.  Landmark asserts that certain features of Nintendo’s eShop infringe its patents.

The patents asserted by Landmark originated from the Japanese company Universal Entertainment Corporation.  Landmark asserts that the patents relate to recording customer data to a “purchaser record medium,” on which both game software and “a predetermined amount of money” are written.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,018,720 Claim 1, for example, recites:

1. A data delivery method comprising:

providing a purchaser rewritable record medium having a primary data area for storing primary data including software, and an additional data area for storing additional data including purchaser inherent data, purchase data and accounting data therein;

recording historical data representing a history of the additional data in both of a computer of a software deliverer and said purchaser rewritable record medium, respectively; and

delivering the primary data, which is requested by a purchaser, from said computer of the software deliverer to said purchaser rewritable record medium when the historical data recorded in said computer of the software deliverer is matched with the historical data recorded in said purchaser rewritable record medium; and

performing an accounting operation.

The thrust of Landmark’s argument appears to be that, because the eShop entails both associating available funds and one or more games with an account, Nintendo infringes Landmark’s patents.

This case is remarkably similar to that filed by Landmark against Valve Corporation (“Valve”), Sony Corporation of America, Sony Interactive Entertainment America, and Sony Interactive Entertainment (collectively, “Sony”) in December of 2016.  The case, originally filed in the Eastern District of Texas as 2:17-CV-00855 but transferred to the Western District of Washington as 2:17-CV-00855, asserted the exact same patents against Valve’s Steam and Sony’s PlayStation Store.  That case was settled by the parties in July 2017.

One issue Landmark may need to overcome in this case is whether these claims are directed to an abstract idea.  Although Courts have begun to slightly relax the application of 35 USC § 101 in patent proceedings, § 101 remains an important threshold issue under Alice v. CLS Bank.

Also note that the '720 patent claims priority to November 7, 1997, and appears on its face to expire a month from now.  Nonetheless, patent law allows a patent owner to collect damages up to six years preceding a lawsuit.
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