Silicon Knights-Epic suit going to federal court

Judge rules Too Human developer's case and Gears of War developer's counterclaim have enough merit to go before a jury.

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In 2007, one of the most heated legal battles in the game industry was between Too Human developer Silicon Knights and Gears of War creator Epic Games. The battle was initially sparked in July of that year, when Silicon Knights sued Epic over allegedly holding back support of its Unreal Engine 3 to reallocate resources to Gears of War development. Epic quickly countersued, accusing the Canadian developer of trying to steal the Unreal Engine 3 technology for its own engine.

Tit-for-tat legal battles are all Too Human.
Tit-for-tat legal battles are all Too Human.

Little has been heard about the suit since November 2007, when a judge refused to dismiss the developer's original complaint against the Unreal Engine maker. Recently, though, the suit has resurfaced, according to Gamasutra. On March 24, a judge reportedly ruled that the suit could proceed to federal court, where a jury will decide the merits of Silicon Knights' claim and Epic's counterclaim.

In its latest filing, the court found that "…Epic had a possible motive to deceive SK into entering into the [Unreal Engine] License Agreement in order to fund the development costs of its own games and delay the work of SK and other competing licensees on their video games."

In a statement, Epic downplayed the decision, telling Gamasutra that, "The court entered judgment in favor of Epic on several claims, rejecting Silicon Knights' claims that it could cancel its license agreement, that Epic interfered with its contractual relationships with publishers, and that Epic has acted unjustly under the license." The company went on to say that, "The court did not rule on the merits of Silicon Knights' remaining claims. … Epic remains confident that it will be fully vindicated at trial."

Silicon Knights president Denis Dyack also tried to put a positive spin on the decision, saying, "When Epic first went public about our case to the press, they said that our claims were without merit. Two separate federal court judges have now disagreed with Epic, and have ruled that the case does have merit."

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