TWO subsidiaries of tech giant Tencent have filed nine lawsuits to the Nanshan District People’s Court over copyright infringement, demanding an indemnity totaling 10.31 million yuan (US$1.44 million), the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported.
It is said to be the first series of cases over copyright infringement and unfair competition involving WeChat screenshot generation software in China.
The two plaintiffs, namely, Tencent Technology (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd. and Shenzhen Tencent Computer Systems Co. Ltd., accused nine mobile phone apps and a website operated by the defendant of randomly generating screenshots that are identical to the WeChat interface, which is very likely to cause confusion or misunderstanding among the public.
According to the plaintiffs, WeChat is a mobile phone application developed by Tencent Technology that enjoys copyright protection for its software, logo, emojis, interface design and other graphic elements.
On Jan. 10, 2011, Tencent Technology authorized Tencent Computer to operate WeChat and its upgraded versions as well as its exclusive use of the software and the rights to the upgraded versions.
WeChat, one of the most popular instant messaging apps in China, has accumulated more than 1 billion users since it was launched in 2011, the plaintiffs said.
However, they found that the defendant charges high fees to its users and makes huge profits by operating the screenshot generation apps and website.
The two companies said the defendant’s behavior has infringed on their copyright, exploited their competitive advantages to seek illegal gains and constituted unfair competition.
At present, a pre-trial exchange of evidence related to the cases has been carried out. The series of cases will be heard shortly.