Dear friends in the media/press, Blizzard and NetEase want to share some recent news with you regarding the outcome of a court case that we feel has significant bearing on the issue of copyright protection in China. The positive result of this case, discussed in formal detail below, validates our belief that when you develop something creative, and believe in it, and form a passionate community around it, you should do everything you can to protect it from false representation and misuse. As two companies whose business is based on creative content, we're obligated and honored to defend the integrity and authenticity of that content for our employees and players--and we will continue to do so aggressively whenever others seek to exploit our content for their own gain.
In August 2016, the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court delivered its verdict in favor of Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase (collectively, the “Plaintiffs”) in their copyright infringement and unfair competition lawsuit against Chengdu Qiyou Technology Co., Ltd. (”Seven Games”), Beijing Fenbo Times Internet Technology Co., Ltd. (“Rekoo”) and Guangzhou Dongjing Computer Technology Co., Ltd. (”UCWeb”).
As previously announced (please see here), in March 2015, the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court granted an interim injunction in the case prohibiting reproduction, distribution and online dissemination of the game titled “Everyone WarCraft: War of Draenor” (formerly known as “Chieftain Thrall: The expedition of WarCraft”).
Following further proceedings and a trial in the case, the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court has made the following rulings in its verdict:
1. Seven Games and Rekoo shall immediately stop their infringement on the copyrights of the plaintiffs and their unfair competition activities;
2. Seven Games and Rekoo shall cease the operation and public distribution of the disputed game, and UCWeb shall cease dissemination of the disputed game;
3. Rekoo shall make a public statement on its official website and on a designated game media website to apologize to Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase and to eliminate any adverse effect;
4. Seven Games, Rekoo and UCWeb shall compensate to Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase for economic losses in the aggregate amount of CNY6,000,000 (six million Yuan Renminbi).
The Court further held in its verdict the following:
1. The “World of Warcraft” series of games developed by Blizzard Entertainment are established online games whose characters, monster images, equipment icons and expansion maps are the products of copyright with the ownership held by Blizzard Entertainment. Without any permission of Blizzard Entertainment, Seven Games and Rekoo developed, operated and distributed to the public the disputed game, which is substantially similar to the product of Blizzard Entertainment, and which shall be deemed as an infringement of Blizzard Entertainment’s copyright.
2. The “World of Warcraft” series of games are established services. In the disputed game, Seven Games and Rekoo have used without permission the unique elements of “World of Warcraft” including the title “World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor” and the decorations of game title, logon interface, character creation interface, etc. Such uses are deemed as unfair competition.
3. The in-game characters from the “World of Warcraft” series of games such as Thrall, Garrosh Hellscream, Tyrande Whisperwind, Malfurion Stormrage, Jaina Proudmoore, Illidan Stormrage, etc. are highly recognized characters that drive demand when used in games and related commodities, and offer commercial return and competitive advantages to Blizzard Entertainment. Seven Games and Rekoo have used the names and names similar to these recognized characters in the disputed game with the intention of associating them with Blizzard’s recognized original game, which may easily cause confusion to gamers and constitutes unfair competition.
4. Rekoo has used the promotional words and phrases such as Warcraft mobile game, the most Warcraft mobile game, Warcraft on tips of fingers, heritage of Warcraft, etc. on its official website, official WeChat, official Weibo as well as the third-party websites, which shall be deemed as false and misleading advertising.
5. UCWeb has failed to exercise reasonable care in its dissemination of the disputed game 9You website, which constitutes contributory infringement.
Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase thank the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court for the judgment according to law. The Plaintiffs believe that the success of this lawsuit will strongly protect the environment for originality and creativity in China, and encourage and promote further development of cultural and creative industries including the game sector. In the meantime, Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase also thank all of you for your long time attention and support, and will continue present our Chinese gamers with the very best game products.