Denis Aleinikov, senior partner and advocate at Aleinikov & Partners, took the lead on legal defence of Blitz Team in a dispute with Wargaming, publisher and developer of the world-famous game World of Tanks. Five lawsuits have been brought to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus against Blitz Team employees (former employees of Wargaming’s Minsk office) being sued for US$1.69 million altogether for violating Wargaming's exclusive rights while working on the Open Source project.
The company was founded by the former Minsk office employees of the group of companies Wargaming - Game Stream JLLC. While at Game Stream JLLC, Kirill Polyakov and Victor Kleschenko took part in the development of World of Tanks Blitz. Kirill and Victor left Wargaming in 2018 and established their own independent gamedev studio Blitz Team. Thereafter they were joined by several more former colleagues who left Games Stream JLLC.
Blitz Team is a Hi-Tech Park resident company. As their first independent project, the team launched mobile shooter Battle Prime which runs on their own engine Blitz Engine.
Battle Prime was globally released on December 9, 2019: the game has got over a million installations over the globe within the first weeks and was noted for high audience appreciation (4.6 out of 5 in the Apple App Store).
In May 2020, Blitz Team changed its company name to Press Fire Games.
According to Wargaming, Blitz Team employees violated his exclusive rights to the World of Tanks Blitz game’s engine (DAVA Framework/DAVA Engine), inter alia, as a result of:
In its comments to dev.by portal Wargaming reported that it acquired exclusive rights to the version of DAVA Engine in 2014 which was made available on the GitHub in 2011. "This version has remained publicly available until now. However, Wargaming has done a lot of work to improve the technology since 2014. Sharing on the GitHub of DAVA Engine code created by Wargaming, has not been authorized by the company since 2014. Wargaming has applied for protection of infringed rights to the versions of DAVA Engine developed by the company after 2014, which are not Open Source technology," it was said in the company.
Wargaming has also claimed that:
Meanwhile, Blitz Team indicated the following: Wargaming has repeatedly stated that DAVA Framework/DAVA Engine has been freely accessible under Open-Source BSD3 License. Yet, from 2014 to 2018 it has continued to be developed on the basis of Game Stream JLLC and posted under Open Source License, which the Wargaming responsible persons were aware of.
From the Blitz Team statement:
Initially, Dava Framework project was added to the Open Source in 2011 by DAVA Consulting, LLC - which was eventually renamed DAVA Engine by Wargaming developers.
Wargaming removed the main repository from the public part of the GitHub in 2018. This resulted in automatic choosing by GitHub’s system of the current root fork (dheerendra1).
The fork dheerendra1 demonstrates that the engine has been released under BSD3 License at least since 2011, that is long before its acquisition by Wargaming.
On May 17, 2016 the information storage format for the license was changed to a simpler one: the information on the license which previously was held in each depository file was transferred to a separate file LICENSE.TXT, placed in the depository root.
Information on the right holder was also modified on the same day – it became Wargaming World Ltd.
Upon the application of Wargaming, the District Court of Nicosia granted an Interim Order on prohibiting Blitz Team, anywhere within the EU territory from the use of trademarks, corporate name, online name and any other signs with the word "Blitz".
Denis Aleinikov noted that the Order had been granted without notification of Blitz Team and in the absence of a Blitz Team representative in Cyprus, which prevented Blitz Team to present to the Court its opinion on the case.
Following the lawsuit brought in the Cyprus court, Wargaming initiated a legal proceeding in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Wargaming has alleged that there is "trademark infringement in breach of federal laws of the USA, unfair competition and trademark infringement in breach of common law, as well as unfair competition in breach of the California Business and Professional Code". Furthermore, Wargaming has sought to cancel Blitz Team’s trademark applications.
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