According to material displayed by China Judgments Online on September 30, a defamation case brought about by Shanghai-based game developer Moonton Technology against Tencent has recently reached a conclusion. The court found that Tencent‘s conduct indeed constituted commercial slander, ordering it to compensate Moonton for losses and expenses totaling 220,000 yuan ($30,800).
Moonton was established in 2014 and has made great achievements in the Southeast Asian game market. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, which was launched in June 2016, has become the top title across many countries in the region’s MOBA game market. As of June this year, its monthly users exceeded 100 million. In March 2021, Moonton was acquired by ByteDance’s game business brand Nuverse.
In 2019, Moonton sued Tencent on the grounds of unfair competition. It claimed that Tencent had fabricated and disseminated false information, hindering cooperation between the plaintiff and relevant partners and causing serious losses to Moonton’s business reputation, thereby asserting that it should bear legal responsibility.
In October 2020, a local Shanghai court made a first-instance judgment after trial, finding that Tencent‘s actions constituted commercial slander. According to the court, Tencent chose to entrust local lawyers to fabricate and disseminate misleading information to the plaintiff’s Indonesian partners when competition for smartphone games between the two parties was particularly fierce in the country, and the MPL (Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League) was about to be held. This was apparently aimed at damaging the business reputation of Moonton, undermining its competitive advantage and constituting commercial slander.
In fact, the dispute between Moonton and Tencent has lasted for many years. The two founders of Moonton are Xu Zhenhua and Justin Jing, and the latter now serves as the CEO. The two founders joined Tencent Games in 2007 and 2008. During his work at Tencent, Xu founded Moonton. After Tencent learned about the matter, Xu was terminated from labor relations, also triggering subsequent lawsuits about non-competition agreements.
Riot Games, a subsidiary of Tencent, also sued Moonton for copying “League of Legends.” After that, Tencent again sued Moonton and Xu Zhenhua on the grounds that Mobile Legends: Bang Bang had copied and infringed upon Honor of Kings.