Things have gone from bad to totally FUBAR for Silicon Knights, as the extent of their now-concluded legal dispute with Epic Games continues to come to light. Not only does the studio behind Too Human and Eternal Darkness have to destroy all unsold copies of their Unreal Engine titles, but a judge ruled that they're guilty of willfully copying a huge amount of copyrighted code while disguising it as their own.
As a result, Silicon Knights now have to pay out an extra $4.5m in damages and legal fees, which exceeds the original figure awarded by a Jury earlier this year.
Silicon Knights originally sought damages from Epic Games in their 2007 lawsuit, who were alleged to have provided inadequate support for Unreal Engine 3 during Too Human's torturous development cycle. A jury cleared Epic on all counts and awarded them just under $4.5 million in damages back in May. However, Epic's counter-suit levelled a swathe of allegations back at the Candian Developer, accusing them of copying huge amounts of copyrighted Unreal Engine code and tweaking it to look like original work. A North Carolina judge has now ruled in favour of the counter-suit, landing Silicon Knights in hot water once again.
“Silicon Knights deliberately and repeatedly copied thousands of lines of Epic Games’ copyrighted code," wrote US District Judge James C. Dever III in the concluded case notes," and then attempted to conceal its wrongdoing by removing Epic Games’ copyright notices and by disguising Epic Games’ copyrighted code as Silicon Knights’ own."
Unfortunately for Dennis Dyack and the team, their wholesale copying also included "non-functional, internal comments Epic Games’ programmers had left for themselves," Embarrassingly, Dever revealed that“Silicon Knights even failed to remove or correct typographical errors Epic Games’ programmers had made in those comments,” providing "overwhelming" proof for Epic's legal team to present.
Silicon Knights now have to shell out $9 million in total damages (an appeal was refused), and as previously reported, are now compelled to destroy all source code and unsold copies of Too Human and X-Men Legends (along with three unannounced games including The Sandman and The Siren In The Maelstrom). "Uncovering Silicon Knight's copyright infringement was undoubtedly arduous and expensive," reads the case document, which has doubtlessly been factored into the extra $2.1 million in attorneys’ fees alone. Not to mention the $2,302,000 in pre-judgement interest.
This comes on the back of allegations made by ex-employees, who accused Silicon Knights of effectively sabotaging X-Men Legends while under contract from Activision. Frankly, it's unlikely that anyone will want to do business with Dyack any time soon - if the company manages to survive this latest debacle.