Silicon Knights Vs. Epic trial has big names, but little money

The nearly half-decade legal feud between Too Human developer Silicon Knights and Gears of War developer Epic games finally landed in a North Carolina courtroom this month.

The nearly half-decade legal feud between Too Human developer Silicon Knights and Gears of War developer Epic Games finally landed in a North Carolina courtroom this month.

A jury was selected for the case, originally filed in July 2007, earlier this month. The trial kicked off on May 14, but not without an interesting last minute twist: Even if Silicon Knights wins, the judge noted in a May 7 order, the Too Human developer won't be entitled to very much money.

The amount the judge settled on was $1, according to court documents.

While the nominal payout makes it seem like continuing the trial would be a futile proposition , if Silicon Knights wins the case they would always have the chance to appeal the issue of how damages was determined, or perhaps seek other recourse.

Neither Epic Games nor Silicon Knights have responded to requests for comment about the ongoing trial.

The entire trial hangs on accusations made by Silicon Knights that Epic Games used money they earned by selling licenses to their Unreal Engine 3 game engine to fund development of Gears of War, rather than improve the game engine for other developers.

Silicon Knights insists the problems they ran into with the engine forced them to create their own game engine for Too Human, making the game much more expensive to develop. They were initially seeking a cut of the profit from Gears of War.

Silicon Knights said they felt vindicated by the court last year when their laundry list of allegations, including unfair competition, breach of contract and fraud, were approved to proceed to a federal jury trial.

But the May 7 ruling by Judge James Dever III notes that Silicon Knights never supplied a legitimate breakdown of the damages they were seeking. The judge, it appears, got tired of waiting and assigned his own amount: $1 per a claim.

The order, while perhaps a dampener for the Silicon Knights legal team, doesn't really impact the determination of guilt. The case is still expected to take another week and will include testimony from an impressive list of game developers including president of Epic Games Mike Capps, president of Silicon Knights Denis Dyack, Epic VP Mark Rein and famed Epic game developer Tim Sweeney.

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