Trial by Jury: Silicon Knights Granted Jury Trial in Unreal Engine 3 Dispute

Video Game Law Blog

April 18, 2011

Industry Gamers reports that the four year old legal battle between Silicon Knights and Epic Games over Unreal Engine 3 has taken a giant step forward. In a recent decision, a US federal court in North Carolina (4th Circuit) allowed the litigation to move to a jury trial.

See here and here for earlier posts on the VGLB about the ongoing lawsuit.

In a nutshell, Silicon Knights, a game developer based in Ontario, alleges, among other things, that Epic Games did not provide proper support for Unreal Engine 3 and withheld royalties, which were then used to finance Epic Games' mega-success, Gears of War.

The Court's decision noted that there was sufficient evidence to move the case to a trial before a jury, pointing to promises that Epic made to licensees and internal emails that encouraged employees to concentrate on Gears of War. However, not all of Silicon's claims are going ahead. In a statement to Joystik, Epic explained that Silicon's claims it could cancel its license agreement, that Epic interfered with Silicon's contractual relationships with publishers, and that Epic has acted unjustly under the license were disposed of in the same motion.

The issues going ahead to trial include intentional interference, unjust enrichment and others that present a genuine issues of material fact, requiring a jury to weigh the credibility of evidence.