Earlier this week, John Beiswenger filed a copyright infringement suit with the US District Court in Pennsylvania alleging that Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series lifts several major points from his novel Link. Specifically, Gamasutra states, “a device and a lab which allows the characters to relive memories through the eyes of ancestors.” Fans of the series will recognize this as the Animus, while fans of Beiswenger’s novel will presumably recognize it as the arguably similar “Link” device from which the book takes its name.
In addition to the Animus issue, Beiswenger’s suit claims that his novel “makes references to assassins and assassinations in regards to the Link device and process throughout Link,” then offers a number of examples straight from the text.
Bizarrely, Beiswenger also names GameTrailers in his suit, claiming that the popular video site infringed on his copyrights by hosting trailers for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and a PlayStation Home trailer based on Ubisoft’s series.
In addition to ending further infringement, Beiswenger’s suit seeks damages of up to $5.25 million.
Though this matter is for the courts to decide, we feel it prudent to point out a few key points of this lawsuit that have yet to be mentioned, yet are unarguably crucial to this case. First and foremost, though the plot similarities Beiswenger describes do exist (read the 42-page complaint .pdf if you don’t believe us), his litigious attack on GameTrailers betrays the fact that Beiswenger is either willfully attempting to use the law as a get rich quick scheme or that he’s wildly uninformed on how the gaming industry and/or internet functions. We won’t necessarily hold that against the man, but one would think that his legal counsel would have suggested he not go after the MTV-owned website whose sole business is hosting other people’s video content.
Likewise, it should be noted that, if successful, Beiswenger’s attempts to end further infringement would either completely destroy the Assassin’s Creed series, or force Ubisoft to massively rework the games’ overarching plot line. No Animus means no present day setting, which means no adorably concerned virtual Kristen Bell. Tragic, no?
Then again, realistically, Ubisoft has the cash and clout to hire the sorts of lawyers that one needs a oujia board and bottle of untainted chicken’s blood to contact. It seems unlikely that the suit will get very far, and if it somehow miraculously does, Ubisoft always has the necessary scratch to pay Beiswenger off. $5.25 million is a relatively minor drop in the bucket compared to the kinds of profit the company stands to pull down from this October’s Assassin’s Creed 3.