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

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  • Mobile app allegedly steals characters, text
  • Riot says defendant company's name is a 'League' reference

(Reuters) - Riot Games Inc, the maker of the popular video game "League of Legends," has accused a Vietnam-based mobile app developer of copying from its game and infringing its copyrights.

In a complaint filed Thursday in Los Angeles federal court, Riot said Imba Technology Co Ltd's "I Am Hero: AFK Tactical Teamfight" lifts characters, text, and other features from "League of Legends," which it says attracts more than 100 million players per month.

Los Angeles-based Riot also said that the name of Imba's game is a reference to the "League of Legends" spinoff "Teamfight Tactics," that Imba sponsors "League of Legends" tournaments, and that "Imba" is itself a reference to language in Riot's game.

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The complaint said Imba, a unit of Singapore-based Suga Pte Ltd, copied paragraphs of text from "League of Legends" verbatim, in addition to using characters with nearly identical visual designs, names, abilities and background stories to heroes from Riot's game.

Riot said it sent Imba a cease-and-desist letter in December, but Imba responded by denying infringement.

Riot asked the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to block sales of Imba's game and for money damages and attorneys' fees.

Imba spokesperson Anh Le said in an email on Saturday that the gameplay, art style, and other aspects of "I Am Hero" differ from "League of Legends," and that Riot ignored changes Imba made to its game in response to the allegations.

Riot and its attorneys didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Krafton Inc, the maker of the popular battle-royale game "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds," sued a different Singapore-based company in Los Angeles earlier this month for allegedly ripping off its game, as well as Apple Inc and Google LLC for distributing it.

The case is Riot Games Inc v. Suga Pte Ltd, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 2:22-cv-00429.

For Riot: Marc Mayer and Theresa Bowman of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp

For Suga: not available

(Note: This story has been updated with a response from Imba.)

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com