World of Tanks developer faces counter-suit in copyright row

Gamebox files slander charge against Wargaming

Chinese publisher Gamebox has filed a counter-suit against Wargaming in response to a recent copyright claim by the World of Tanks creator.

Wargaming claims Gamebox and developer Changyou’s Project Tank infringed the copyright of World of Tanks, blatantly copying the game that has propelled the studio into the international limelight.

Gamasutra reports that Gamebox has filed a counter-suit alleging "illicit competition and slander".

"The accusation of PT [Project Tank] by Wargaming has two major aims – gameplay and game image," said the company.

"However, the term gameplay is a very general concept in the online game industry. It merely refers to a set of game rules, which are not subject to any intellectual property protection."

Project Tanks was pulled from Facebook when Wargaming first made its complaint. This played in Gamebox’s favor, as the ability to demonstrate that real financial damage was done by Wargaming’s claims could give weight to the publisher’s own allegations of slander.

On the other hand, it has been pointed out that slander deals with a verbal remark, whereas libel is the proper term addressing allegations made in writing such as those made by Wargaming against Gamebox.

As usual in a game industry copyright infringement suit, much of the legal action revolves around the question of whether or not the assets Wargaming claims were copied were of an artistic or mechanical nature.

Gamebox claims that what is shared is due only to theme and mechanics, both of which are given copyright leeway by precedent.

"Wargaming also made accusations about in-game images, which is even more unreasonable," the studio explained.

"The designers of Project Tank have done nothing but rebuild classic tanks that actually existed in history."

Both companies stand to gain or lose a lot with this suit, but more importantly the industry as a whole could have to live with the precedent set if either suit isn’t settled out of court.

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