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

Friday, 9 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.