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Mafia-Themed NFT Facing Lawsuit over Stolen IP

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NFT with Mafia Theme
NFT with Mafia Theme

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On September 7th, 2022, a Korean internet role-playing videogame creator filed a lawsuit in federal court in Seattle alleging that a Romanian developer it had employed had used the concept of a mafia online game world to create associated nonfungible tokens that had previously sold for more than $3 million.

NC Interactive’s attorneys started demanding that Bucharest-based Amber Studio hand over at least $138,000 in royalty fees the Korean company claims it is owed from NFT sales that result from ideas expressed in a computer game NC Interactive has now been starting to work on since at least 2019. NC Interactive is the U.S. subsidiary of the video game industry giant NCSoft.

According to the complaint, that same year, NC Interactive engaged Amber Studio to create “source code, pictures, characters, as well as other game-related assets” for a gaming project that was then known as “Criminal Empire.” The game was published on the Apple, and the Google Play mobile application stores the next year by an NC subsidiary entitled GoldSlugz Games.

The firm opted to “shelve” its game “shortly after,” and a year later, chose to license the concept to Amber Studio with the hope that Amber would continue to work on the game. Following the termination of the contract, which forbade Amber from disclosing the IP, NC Interactive’s attorneys claimed that Amber “had not supplied any of the needed papers or built the program in any substantial way.”

Instead, Amber violated the contract and collaborated with another business, Syndicate Production PTE Ltd., which is not listed as a defendant in the complaint. However, in order to raise interest in the NFTs Syndicate had then released, that business declared intentions to rebrand the game as “Syn City” and released a linked website that featured “gameplay video and characters from the game.”

However, as NC Interactive’s attorneys pointed out, this decision ended up being a disaster. After that, Syndicate “consequently got complaints” alleging that the Syn City name violated trademarks belonging to writer of comic books Frank Miller, whose “Sin City” writings were turned into a successful film in 2005.

The game was then renamed “Mobland,” which has now gathered 184,000 Twitter followers and, according to the company’s webpage, “orders of more than 8,000 NFT for just a sum of more than $3 million in income.”

NC Interactive claimed that it received nothing from Amber Studio’s sales. Additionally, Syndicate Production, who maintained the Mobland website, reportedly did not give anything to Amber Studio. The corporation allegedly lost all control of the intellectual property connected to organized crime.

Additionally, they had dismal news for anyone who had invested in the notion of a new and enhanced “Mobland” video game, which was ostensibly being heavily advertised by the NFT sales.

According to NC Interactive’s attorneys, “NFTs pertains to an online gaming item that NC Interactive has really no future intention of delivering since Amber failed to produce the game.”

An Amber Studio official refused to comment on the complaint, while NC Interactive’s representatives did not respond to a request for a response.

NC Interactive is represented by K&L Gates LLP attorneys Christopher M. Wyant and Ruby Nagamine.

Amber Studio, in the lawsuit, did not have access to legal counsel.

NC Interactive LLC v. Amber Studio SA, reference number 2:22-cv-01251, is the name of the dispute in the Western District of Washington’s district court.

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