Friday, January 25, 2008

Epic Requests to See Silicon Knights Engine Code as Legal Battle Continues

For those who have not heard the story yet, Epic licensed out its Unreal Tournament 3 Engine to Silicon Knights (and a host of other companies too). Silicon Knights was none-too-happy about the way Epic behaved afterward, alleging "Rather than provide support to Silicon Knights and Epic’s other many licensees of the Engine, Epic intentionally and wrongfully has used the fees from those licenses to launch its own game to widespread commercial success while simultaneously sabotaging efforts by Silicon Knights and others to develop their own video games." Notably, Epic did not met a March 2006 deadline for delivery of a working development kit, and did not provide one until November 2006 and provided no instructions on how to use the damn thing. Silicon Knights further alleges that Epic attempted to avoid its obligations under the Agreement by representing to Silicon Knights that the support,
modifications, or enhancements to the Engine – all of which are essential to the Engine’s proper function – were “game specific” and not “engine level” adaptations, and that Epic therefore need not provide them to any of its licensees, including Silicon Knights...That representation is false, as evidenced in part by the fact that Epic later provided nearly all the Gears of War code to all of its licensees, at no extra charge, in a belated effort at damage control." Now Epic is requesting to see the engine code for Too Human and SK is fighting it tooth-and-nail. SK claims that Epic has not demonstrated any need to view the code and no reason why expert witnesses can be utilized to obtain the information they want. Also on the shadier side, Epic was trying to keep the identity of who will view the source code confidential - the court ruled against that, and against the use of Epic CEO Tim Sweeney as one of the viewers, citing him a playing a role in "competitive decision-making."

A Knight's Tale of Epic Proportions

Epic looks like they are in some hot water now. It is also very curious why they would try and use CEO Tim Sweeney as one of the viewers of the code - ideally, they would bring in uninterested expert witnesses, say someone for another company that licensed the engine and would be familiar with what Epic distributed. The case reeks of unfair competition...

No comments: