Sections

Epic judgment doubled, Silicon Knights ordered to pay over $9 million

Friday, 9th November 2012 16:28 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Silicon Knights has been ordered by a North Carolina federal judge to pay Epic Games over $9 million, essentially doubling the $4.5 million a jury awarded Epic in May after it was found Silicon Knights deliberately copied code from Unreal Engine 3.

US District Judge James C. Dever III added the $4.7 million to the case, which was originally brought against Epic when Silicon Knights alleged it had breached a licensing agreement for Unreal Engine 3, ordering the firm to pay Epic an additional $278,000 in costs, $2.1 million in attorneys’ fees, and $2.3 million in prejudgment interest.

The $4.7 million is in addition to the $4.5 million awarded in damages by the jury for breach of contract, copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets mentioned in Epic’s counterclaims.

“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,” Judge Dever wrote.

Evidence shown in the court documents proved to the judge that Denis Dyack’s firm “willfully” and “maliciously” tried to hide its theft by changing the variable names in 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.”

“Silicon Knights even failed to remove or correct typographical errors Epic Games’ programmers had made in those comments,” Judge Dever added. He also denied Silicon Knights request to reduce the jury award.

Silicon Knights brought a case against Epic in 2005 after the firm paid $750,000 for the right to use Unreal Engine 3 for development on Too Human. Silicon claimed the engine didn’t work properly, and that instead of Epic replacing the software with a working version or returning its licencing fees, Epic instead concentrated on its own game, Gears of War.

The firm also claimed Epic interfered with publishing contracts it had with Microsoft and SEGA.

Epic’s countersuit stated that Silicon Knights used Unreal Engine 3 to develop games outside of the Too Human licensing agreement including: The Ritualist for SEGA – which was cancelled; X-Men: Destiny which was published through Activision, and unreleased games Siren in the Maelstrom and The Sandman.

Silicon Knights has also been ordered to recall and destroy every unsold copy of Too Human and X-Men: Destiny at its own expense.

You can read the entire court documents from the case here, paying specific attention to pages 19 and 47.

Breaking news

11 Comments

Sign in to post a comment.

  1. Mike W

    Damn, these guys can’t catch a break.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. SplatteredHouse

    So, they got in trouble (sk) because the license of UE3 was per-game (wouldn’t the studio have a license that they can use the software for all projects?) and they tried extending the usage, to end up with a situation akin to handing in someone else’s homework complete with their unaltered annotations and corrections? um…Then, they also copied code (which you can’t do. So, what’s the UE3 license for?) and so they got slapped with 2 fines, as well as a helluva cleanup obligation, at cost, to prevent further damage for their cheekiness – which, it sounds like might have remained unknown, at Epic’s discretion, had Dyack & co not sent a legal challenge (to where, all their misappropriations came to light)

    …is that right?

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Stephany Nunneley

    @2 Exactly! (y)

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Cobra951

    They got caught red-handed, and now they have to pay the piper. Not difficult to follow. But $2.1 million in attorneys’ fees? Some amounts are simply unconscionable.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Phoenixblight

    Well SK is dead. They are only alive on paper. They currently only employ 4-5 people. Game set and Match.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. The_Red

    “also non-functional, internal comments Epic Games’ programmers had left for themselves.”

    Seriously? They left original comments by Epic programmers in the engine that claimed was their own!? I know there are a LOT of lines in that code but goddamn…
    Also, this has gotten past the point of destruction, humiliation and damnation. Poor SK employees.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Phoenixblight

    @6

    Thats the point of these cases. EPic wasn’t looking for money they just wanted to crush dyack in the dirt so he can’t get back up again. The majority of employees already left a long time ago, they will get on their feet and move on. Dyack however…

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Omelette

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

    This line is too funny. They even FAILED to correct the typos in the comments.. as if it was important :p

    #8 1 year ago
  9. The_Red

    @7
    True. Yet I’m still torn a bit though. No case is black and white. Dyack is probably the arrogant exec that tormented his employees and ruined SK (If the recent article on X-Men Destiny is to be believed) but what if SK was at least partially right about Epic?

    I guess we will never know.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. Phoenixblight

    @9

    They weren’t right about Epic though there were multiple independent studios much like SK that used Unreal 3 at the same time they did and they however pulled off a game. Dyack just felt like putting all the blame on Epic.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. Hirmetrium

    @2: I think it also says a lot that Epic didn’t bring this to court in the first place. SK might of committed a huge atrocity by copying the source code, but I doubt Epic were the perfect supplier, and they probably needed money to make Gears.

    Still, that’s how the law goes.

    #11 1 year ago