John L. Beiswenger has filed a lawsuit against Ubisoft, claiming that its Assassin’s Creed video game franchise follows a storyline that is eerily similar to his series of “Link” science fiction books. He specifically calls out Assassin’s Creed’s spiritual and biblical tones and the battle between good and evil as being ripped right from the pages of his novels. Beiswenger is looking for $1 million to $5 million in damages.
In case you’ve never heard of Link before, here’s a description from the lawsuit: “In Link, characters experience notable and accurate historical moments through their ancestors’ memories; this is a major plotline of Link. In the Assassin’s Creed video game series, characters experience various historically accurate times in history through their ancestor’s memories; this is a major plotline of the Assassin’s Creed video games and books.”
The lawsuit does not appear to provide any link (no pun intended) between Beiswenger and Ubisoft. That is to day, if the novelist was a consultant to Ubisoft or something along those lines, this case might have deeper teeth. But the issues being raised are rather vague. A perfectly valid defense against copyright infringement claims is “independent creation,” which means Ubisoft came up with the same kind of plotline by sheer coincidence. That will likely be the defense used here.