Wargaming sues former employees. Company seeks $1.69 in damages

Belarusian indie studio BlitzTeam claims Wargaming is suing its former employees over an open source project.

World of Tanks

What is going on?

According to Minsk-based BlitzTeam, which launched mobile shooter Battle Prime in early December, individual lawsuits have been filed against its employees. Collectively, Wargaming seeks $1.69 million in compensation from five of its former devs.

Blitz Team learned about the lawsuits on December 17 from the Judicial Collegium on intellectual property of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus.

What Wargaming says happened

All the defendants previously worked at Wargaming. While there, they worked with DAVA Framework/DAVA Engine, according to the press release from Blitz Team.

That technology became a source of conflict. Wargaming claims that in 2014 it received exclusive rights to DAVA Framework/DAVA Engine.

According to Wargaming, the defendants (1) posted counterfeit copies of the engine source code on GitHub when they worked at Game Stream studio (Wargaming’s Minsk division), (2) “forked these copies to personal accounts on GitHub” and (3) added the freeware BSD 3-clause license to the forks.

What BlitzTeam says happened

Folks at BlitzTeam are surprised to see the events unfold this way. The studio cites four things.

First, Wargaming itself has repeatedly stated that the DAVA Framework/DAVA Engine is distributed under an open-source BSD 3-clause license. Plus, the engine was licensed under BSD 3-clause before the purchase.

Second, the correspondence with Wargaming management exists that proves that all changes were expressely agreed by the company’s execs and that they confirmed that the BSD 3-clause license applied to the versions of the code created after 2014.

Third, the very history of changes, according to BlitzTeam, suggests that the technology has been actively developed for five years under the BSD 3-clause license, which Wargaming top managers were aware of.

Fourth, instead of using the DMCA process, “which, when the necessary legal grounds exist, allows the affected party to request the removal of the entire fork tree from GitHub,” Wargaming has initiated lawsuits against former employees.

The studio does not know whether lawsuits were filed against other Wargaming employees who made changes to the DAVA Framework/DAVA Engine. BlitzTeam devs think it’s possible that lawsuits may be related to the recent release of Battle Prime. The latter, according to the studio, was developed on the original proprietary engine.

As for DAVA Framework/DAVA Engine, it was used when working on World of Tanks Blitz and World of Tanks Generals.

The original Russian-language press release from Blitz Team can be found here.

UPD:

Wargaming confirmed the lawsuits against its former employees. As a spokesperson told Russian site for game developers App2Top, the company did not authorize sharing the DAVA Engine code created after 2014 on GitHub.

In 2014, Wargaming acquired exclusive rights to the version of DAVA Engine, which was made available on GitHub in 2011. This version remains publicly available to this day. However, since 2014, Wargaming has done a lot of work to improve the technology. Sharing the Dava Engine code created by Wargaming since 2014 on GitHub has not been authorized by the company. Wargaming is seeking to protect its infringed rights to the versions of DAVA Engine developed by the company after 2014, which are not Open Source technology.

Wargaming also adds that it found a number its former employees in Belarus, USA and other countries in violation of its exclusive rights.

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