John L. Beiswenger v. Ubisoft Entertainment et al.
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania
Case No. 1:12-cv-00717-CCC, Filed On April 17, 2012


Case Update: May 2012

Following a settlement with Game Trailers out of court, John Beiswenger has voluntarily dismissed his lawsuit against Ubisoft for copyright infringement regarding the Assasin’s Creed series.  The author filed for voluntary dismissal without prejudice on May 29, leaving the door open for him to reinstate the charges against Ubisoft at a later date.  Beiswenger’s lawyer, Kelley Clements, stated in a recent press release that “My client’s decision to exercise his right to voluntarily dismiss the action, without prejudice, in no way diminishes his stalwart conviction in the merit of his claims against Ubisoft. He is unwavering in his belief that many key components of the Assassin’s Creed video game franchise infringe on many key components of his novel, Link.”

Beiswenger has decided to drop his lawsuit against Ubisoft at this time in order to focus his attentions elsewhere.  According to his official statement, “I filed the Complaint and Motion for Preliminary Injunction in federal court because I believe authors should vigorously defend their rights in their creative works; otherwise, the laws protecting them simply have no purpose.  Regrettably, the resources required to defend those rights are unavailable to many individual creators. As a result, rampant infringement is occurring with impunity.”  This news comes just in time for the October 30, 2012, release of Ubisoft’s next title in the franchise, Assassin’s Creed III.  Stay tuned, this is not the end of the story.

Original Post:

John Beiswenger has sued a whole slew of Ubisoft entities for copyright infringement regarding Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise. Mr. Beiswenger is the author of the book “Link”, which has been sold on for a while. The lawsuit is John L. Beiswenger v. Ubisoft Entertainment et al., court docket 1:12-cv-00717-CCC, Middle District of Pennsylvania, filed Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

According to the Complaint, in Link, the Plaintiff’s plot includes the conception and creation of a link device and process whereby ancestral memories can be accessed, recalled, relived, and re-experienced by the user. Link apparently further describes a bio-synchronizer. The Complaint further alleges that Assassin’s Creed’s “Animus” and “Animus 2.0” device and process, among other portions of the game, are infringements of Plaintiff’s Link copyright. Allegations are made against different editions of Assassin’s Creed, as well as related publications and trailers.
This case, if it goes the distance, would provide some additional guidance regarding the idea/expression dichotomy. That is, the ultimate question will likely be something to the effect of: Does Assassin’s Creed only use the “idea” of a device that accesses ancestral memories, or does the Assassin’s Creed franchise go to far and copy the “expression” penned by Mr. Beiswenger in describing its own Animus technology.
We will watch this case and keep you posted.
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