Moonton Games Wins Defamation Suit Against Tencent

Moonton Games recently won a defamation suit against Tencent that was settled at the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court in China. The legal documents with regards to this case have now been viewed by certain online websites and it is believed that Tencent will have to suffer economic losses and expenses of 220,000 yuan (~£28,000) as compensation.

Moonton is best known as the developer of the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang game, whereas Tencent is one of the biggest technology conglomerates in China. Moonton has been a prominent face in the Southeast Asian game market over the years.

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Image Credits | Moonton

What do the legal documents reveal?

The legal documents have revealed that Tencent’s Indonesian attorney had sent letters of warning going back to 2018 to the partners at Moonton in Indonesia, which included RevivalTV – the esports platform. The crux of the letter was Tencent’s 19.4m yuan (~£2.45m) lawsuit against Moonton’s CEO Xu Zhenhua in China. The claim made by Tencent was that the Moonton CEO, Xu Zhenhua, had violated trade secrets to develop Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’s game software. Tencent claimed that Mobile Legends: Bang Bang copied their Honor of Kings and Arena of Valor titles.

On closer inspection by the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court in China, it was revealed that this was essentially a labour dispute. Xu Xhenhua was formerly an employee of Tencent before founding Moonton and becoming its CEO in 2014. He had signed a non-compete clause during his time at Tencent. There was nothing to suggest that Xu Zhenhua had violated trade secrets in the development of MLBB’s game software. This led to Moonton filing a commercial defamation lawsuit with respect to the letters of warning sent in Indonesia.

It has been reported that Tencent have used intimidating language throughout the dispute, claiming that they’d already won the ongoing plagiarism court case between Mobile Legends and Riot’s League of Legends. There has been no verdict of the kind so far.

Tencent in legal trouble

There is also a separate legal battle where Tencent has filed a lawsuit against the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang developer for copyright infringement that is taking place in the US between the two sides. The accusation from Tencent is that Moonton has copied various parts of Riot Games’ League of Legends and Wild Rift titles. Tencent has highlighted the similarities between both games’ title artwork and playable characters to make the case.

The documents also reveal that Tencent will now have to issue a public statement apologizing to Moonton over the defamation case. There’s no word on if this has already taken place and if Tencent are willing to cede to these demands. The dispute has gone on for many years now.

Everything kicked off Xu Zhenhua founded Moonton while he was still employed by Tencent. Xu Zhenhua was terminated as soon as the news was out and the companies have been at loggerheads since. Xu Zhenhua had been a Tencent employee for seven years prior to the formation of Moonton.

The dispute between the two companies is far from over, as stated earlier that the lawsuit in the US is still ongoing. There is a 35-page public document of Riot Games’ case on Scribd that reveals everything about the case in greater detail.