Blizzard wins $7M judgment in World of Warcraft bot lawsuit

Blizzard Entertainment has prevailed in a two-year legal battle with Ceiling Fan Software over World of Warcraft bots, and has been awarded $7 million by a federal court in California.

The publisher originally filed suit in December 2011 against Ceiling Fan, a company that developed two bots — Pocket Gnome and Shadow Bot — allowing World of Warcraft players to automate aspects of the game. Using bots is a violation of the World of Warcraft end-user license agreement and its terms of use.

The court agreed with Blizzard's contention that the bots constituted tortious interference with contractual relations under California law. That is, Ceiling Fan knowingly sold software that was a violation of World of Warcraft's terms of use, which is a legal contract between World of Warcraft players and Blizzard.

By early 2013, the company had generated revenue of more than $289,000 from the bots, according to one of its co-owners. And it was determined that approximately 1,400 World of Warcraft players had received warnings, suspensions or bans from Blizzard for using a bot made by Ceiling Fan.

In addition to the $7 million judgment, the court granted Blizzard a permanent injunction against Ceiling Fan that prevents the company from selling, licensing, operating and allowing others to use the bots.

"We are very sorry that we can no longer offer our products and we understand that you may be concerned about this result," said Josh Becker, co-founder of Ceiling Fan, in a statement on the company's website. Ceiling Fan is soliciting donations via PayPal to help cover the cost of its legal fees from the lawsuit.

We've reached out to Blizzard for comment, and will update this article with any details we receive.

Correction: Due to a typographical error in the court opinion, we reported that 14,000 users of Ceiling Fan's bots had been warned, suspended or banned by Blizzard. Becker told Polygon that the number is actually 1,400. We've edited the story to reflect this.

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