Riot Games lawsuit says ByteDance unit ripped off 'League of Legends'

Organised media tour to Zhongguancun National Innovation Demonstration Zone Exhibition Center in Beijing
The logo of TikTok's parent company ByteDance is seen at its booth during an organised media tour to the Zhongguancun National Innovation Demonstration Zone Exhibition Center in Beijing, China February 10, 2022. REUTERS/Florence Lo
  • ByteDance's Moonton accused of copying characters, promo materials
  • Tencent's Riot previously won millions from Moonton in China

(Reuters) - Riot Games Inc, the maker of the popular computer game "League of Legends," sued ByteDance unit Shanghai Moonton Technology Co Ltd in Los Angeles federal court on Monday for what it called "blatant copying" of the game's mobile version.

Riot, owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, said in the lawsuit that Moonton's "Mobile Legends: Bang Bang" copies extensively from "League of Legends: Wild Rift," infringing copyrights in several elements of the game and its promotional materials.

ByteDance and Moonton did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Riot said in a statement that the lawsuit followed "years of serial copying" by Moonton.

Riot sued in the same court in 2017, alleging that "Bang Bang" and other Moonton games copied "League of Legends." The court dismissed the case later that year after finding it would be better heard in China.

A unit of ByteDance, which also owns video platform TikTok, bought Moonton for nearly $4 billion last year, defeating an acquisition bid from Tencent. Moonton was founded by a former Tencent employee.

Los Angeles-based Riot released "Wild Rift" in the United States last year. According to Riot's lawsuit, Moonton engaged in a "deliberate and sustained campaign" of copying, and imitates new aspects of "Wild Rift" when Riot updates its game.

Riot said the games' similarities include their user interfaces and characters' designs, skills and accessories. The lawsuit also said Moonton ripped off promotional materials for "Wild Rift" including trailers and customized Nike sneakers.

The lawsuit said Moonton has been copying "League of Legends" in mobile games since at least as early as 2015.

According to the complaint, Moonton's "Bang Bang" has been installed more than 500 million times from the Google Play store.

Riot sued a unit of Singapore-based Suga Pte Ltd in January for allegedly copying "League of Legends" with a different mobile game.

The case is Riot Games Inc v. Shanghai Moonton Technology Co Ltd, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 2:22-cv-03107.

For Riot: Dale Cendali and Joshua Simmons of Kirkland & Ellis

For Moonton: Not available

(NOTE: This story has been updated with comment from Riot Games.)

Read more:

ByteDance acquires gaming studio Moonton at around $4 billion valuation: sources

Riot Games sues app maker over alleged 'League of Legends' ripoff

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, for Reuters Legal. He has previously written for Bloomberg Law and Thomson Reuters Practical Law and practiced as an attorney. Contact: 12029385713