Silicon Knights Must Pay Epic $9M, Destroy All Its UE3 Games

After losing its legal battle with Epic Games earlier this year, developer Silicon Knights has now been ordered to destroy all games it built with the Unreal Engine.

According to page 41 of the case court document, Silicon Knights has until December 10th 2012 to destroy any software it built with Unreal Engine 3, including the code for Too Human, The Box/Ritualyst, The Sandman, X-Men: Destiny and Siren in the Maelstrom — at its own expense.

In May, Silicon Knights was ordered to pay Epic $4.45 million in damages after the court ruled that Silicon Knights breached their Unreal license agreement, misappropriated Epic’s trade secrets and infringed Epic’s copyrights in the Unreal Engine 3 code.

The legal battle started in 2007 when Silicon Knights claimed that Epic was withholding money that it should have spent supporting the Unreal Engine, pouring it into Gears of War development instead. Because of this, SK alleged, the engine had problems that caused the studio to ditch the tech at the last minute and develop its own system, resulting in increased costs for SK.

Judge Dever wrote:

“Silicon Knights deliberately and repeatedly copied thousands of lines of Epic Games’ copyrighted code, and then attempted to conceal its wrongdoing by removing Epic Games’ copyright notices and by disguising Epic Games’ copyrighted code as Silicon Knights’ own.”

Evidence shown in the court documents proved to the judge that SK “willfully” and “maliciously” tried to hide its theft by changing the variable names in the engine’s code. Lines of engine code can number in the millions, and Epic’s attorneys went to “significant efforts” in order to reveal the “breadth and scope” of Silicon’s “prolonged coverup.”

Judge Dever said the evidence against Silicon Knights was “overwhelming,” as its “copying” included not only the functional code contained within Unreal Engine 3, but also “non-functional, internal comments Epic Games’ programmers had left for themselves.”

Judge Dever said:

“Silicon Knights even failed to remove or correct typographical errors Epic Games’ programmers had made in those comments.”

Oops.

I can’t say I’m a fan of Silicon Knights, but it’s a shame that a developer that has been around since the early ’90s has to be crippled like this — through its own fault.


via Eurogamer, VG247

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7 Comments on Silicon Knights Must Pay Epic $9M, Destroy All Its UE3 Games

R.J.

On November 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm

The mistakes that caught SK are something that comes up in situations like these fairly often. It is pretty obvious what happened when the same typos show up in the original and the supposedly self-made product. It is pretty careless of them to copy code and not go through to find the dev notes that Epic made. Nothing says, “I copied this from someone else,” like having it be identical right down to the mistakes.

This sort of reminds me of a case from one of my law classes where a company was able to prove that another stole information from its database because the thief’s database contained false contact information that the company deliberately put in there just in case someone tried to pass the information off as their own.

Since SK has to destroy anything using Unreal 3, perhaps it is good that their plans for a Too Human trilogy flopped.

Kami

On November 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm

It’s a shame that Silicon Knights went this low, because to be quite honest Eternal Darkness was fantastic. When they recently stated the problems with X-Men Destiny was because they were also working on a prototype for Eternal Darkness 2 I was a bit confused. Why would you work on a prototype when you have an enormous license at your fingertips as X-Men?

Except, if you Google “Eternal Darkness Trademark”, you will find a database that demonstrates the people who own that trademark are… Nintendo! So they openly admitted working on a prototype of a game that they didn’t even own. There was no suggestion that they were asked to do this by Nintendo, other than Denis Dyack has suggested on many occasions that Nintendo remain “a silent partner” (although it’s telling Nintendo haven’t commented on any of this or stepped in with aid, which suggests otherwise no?).

I think it is also important to remind ourselves that it was Denis Dyack and Silicon Knights who initiated the lawsuit in the first place. This probably might have been found out eventually but never have shone quite a stark light on it as they did by effectively attempting to sue the people they were ripping off. Silicon Knights has effectively been the architect of its own destruction in this instance.

That’s karma for you. Or revenge. Either way, I struggle to feel much sympathy for anyone but those losing their jobs.

Axetwin

On November 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Its really disappointing SK’s own stupidity might be the cause of their shutdown. I dont really see them bouncing back from something like this.

Unlike many others, while deeply flawed, I still really enjoyed Too Human. I respect what they tried to do and how they tried to do things differently. Not only is this the final nail in the coffin of any other Too Human games, I wouldnt be surprised if this kills the Soul Reaver reboot they were working on.

Kami

On November 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm

@ Axetwin; That would be Crystal Dynamics working on the Soul Reaver reboot. They were the ones who made Soul Reaver too, SK made the previous instalment, Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen. Crystal Dynamics hold all properties pertaining to the Legacy of Kain series apparently.

So don’t worry, you won’t have seen the last of the Soul Reaver reboot.

Axetwin

On November 9, 2012 at 11:15 pm

@Kami – Thank you for correcting me. For some reason I tend to think Crystal Dynamics was and is a part of Silicon Knights.

Kami

On November 10, 2012 at 12:23 am

@Axetwin – It’s quite alright. Try the Wikipedia entry for “Legacy of Kain (Series)”. Or to grab the direct quote for the terminally lazy who might swing by;

“In 1998, Silicon Knights filed a suit against Crystal Dynamics for rights to the Legacy of Kain IP, requesting an injunction to prevent Crystal Dynamics from marketing the sequel. The two studios settled their legal dispute privately, and Crystal Dynamics and Eidos retained rights to the Legacy of Kain franchise, provided that Soul Reaver acknowledge Silicon Knights as the series’ original creator”

The relationship between the two had never been that sweet and was dissolved the year before the lawsuit in 1997.

The more you know… :P

shawn

On November 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I hope this doesn’t effect more Too Human games comming out. I know the first one had problems but it was really unique and seemed to have a pretty massive story. I couldn’t put down the first one. I was hoping they would fix things like the inventory/equipment screen and the locking on enemies being difficult; other then that I was hoping to find out the rest of the story. The game had a lot of minor flaws but they could easily remedy that in the 2nd and 3rd game. I was hoping they were about to come out with the 2nd one soon. I just started another playthrough of the first one a couple of days ago.