NetEase Wins China’s Biggest Payout for Unfair Competition in Gaming Sector at USD7 Million

(Yicai Global) Dec. 1 — NetEase, one of China’s largest gaming companies, has been awarded the highest-ever amount of compensation in an unfair competition case in the gaming sector, online news outlet The Paper reported yesterday.

Shenzhen Miniwan Technology has been ordered to pay two NetEase units, Guangzhou NetEase and Shanghai NetEase Network Technology Development, CNY50 million (USD7 million) in compensation for unfair competition, the report said, citing a ruling by the Guangdong High People’s Court. And it must remove 230 infringing elements from the game in question.

Miniwan copied elements of a game to which NetEase owned the copyright to improperly benefit from the business of others and this constitutes unfair competition, the court said. However, the similarity between the two lies in the design of the game elements rather than the graphics, therefore NetEase’s claim of copyright infringement is dismissed, it added.

In 2019, NetEase filed a lawsuit against Miniwan at the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court for copyright infringement and unfair competition, claiming that the graphics of Miniwan’s game ‘Mini World’ were very similar to that of Minecraft, a sandbox game developed by Sweden’s Mojang to which NetEase holds exclusive China rights.

NetEase said that several core elements of Mini World were copied from Minecraft, and it asked the court to order Miniwan to cease infringing on the copyright, eliminate the impact and pay compensation of CNY50 million.

The Shenzhen court ruled in the first trial that Miniwan had committed copyright infringement and ordered it to remove the infringing elements from the game and compensate Hangzhou-based NetEase CNY21.1 million. Neither party was dissatisfied with the sentence and appealed.

Miniwan launched ‘Mini World’ on mobile Android and Apple devices as well as computer versions in May 2016. The game has been downloaded more than 3.3 billion times since its launch and amassed over 400 million users.

Editor: Kim Taylor

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