Injunction ordered during an ongoing copyright infringement and unfair competition suit: Blizzard Entertainment Inc. & Shanghai NetEase Network Technology Development Co., Ltd. vs. Chengdu Qiyou Technology Co., Ltd. et al [Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court, (2015) Yue Zhi Fa Zhu Min Chu Zi No.2-1 Civil Judgment & (2015) Yue Zhi Fa Shang Min Chu Zi No. 2-1 Civil Judgment]

Case Summary

Blizzard Entertainment Inc. is the copyright owner to the cyber game “World of Warcraft” (魔兽世界), and Shanghai NetEase Network Technology Development Co., Ltd. is the game’s exclusive operator in mainland China.

Blizzard Entertainment and Shanghai NetEase Netword Technology Development (Shanghai NetEase) found that a cyber game called “Warcraft of the State” (全民魔兽) (formerly known as “Chief Sal” 《酋长萨尔》), which was developed by Chengdu Qiyou Technology Co., Ltd. (Qiyou), was exclusively operated by the Beijing Fenbo Time Network Technology Co., Ltd. (Fenbo), and was offered for downloading by Guangzhou Dongjing Computer Technology Co., Ltd. (Dongjing). The plaintiffs complained that this“Warcraft of the State" game was infringing upon their copyright on “World of Warcraft” as a work of the fine arts, and that Fenbo’s unauthorized use of the specific name and decoration of their famous game, in combination with its false advertising, constituted unfair competition.

The two plaintiffs, when initiated the suit, also filed an application for injunction, requesting the court to ban the accused’s infringing activities, and deposited an amount of 10 million in cash as warranty.

Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court awarded an injunction that would remain in force until the date when the judgment of the case takes effect. During the imposition of the injunction, the defendants would still be allowed to provide balance inquiries and refund services to the players. After the court granted the injunction, Qiyou and Dongjing automatically complied, while Fenbo was obliged to comply under the court’s supervision and explanation. Qiyou and Fenbo later filed an application for reconsideration against the injunction, which was dismissed by the court.

Significance

The court strictly scrutinized all the substantial requirements provided by the procedure before granting the injunction. In order to guarantee that the injunction be discreetly granted and stands reasonable and effective, the court assessed the plaintiff’s chances of winning and whether irreparable damages would be caused to the plaintiffs. Considering that the launch of the accused game would definitely squeeze out the market share of the plaintiffs’ new game, and considering that cyber games’ short life span, fast spreading, and wide range would make it difficult to assess the prejudice of the plaintiffs, plus the fact that the marketing strategy used for the accused game would also bring harm to the plaintiffs’ business reputation, an injunction was therefore granted. The court, by taking into account the players’ interests, allowed defendants to continue providing balance inquiries and refund services to the players during the imposition of the injunction. This case showed a strong resolution on the court’s part to protect IPR. Public and insiders showed support for this injunction. This case was selected into the Exemplary Intellectual Property Cases released by the Supreme People’s Court in September 2015.