Shanghai Moonton Technology Business, the company that created Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, has been sued by Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends. In the mobile videogame League of Legends: Wild Rift, Riot Games alleges that Shanghai Moonton Technology Company is running a “deliberate and ongoing campaign to free ride on Riot’s highly valuable rights.”
The dispute between Riot and Moonton over Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and another game named Mobile Legends: 5v5 MOBA is what gave rise to the lawsuit, which can be read in its entirety on Polygon’s website. In one instance, Riot asserted that Moonton had “developed and promoted a succession of mobile games meant to trade off Riot’s well-known and valuable intellectual property” and that Moonton had made great efforts to hide its illicit activity: For instance, Moonton immediately produced Mobile Legends: Bang Bang after Riot notified Google about 5v5 MOBA and deleted it from the Google Play Store. After Riot notified Google of the problem, this took place.
However, Mobile Legends: Bang bang “was not at all a separate game, but in fact was the exact same game as Mobile Legends: 5v5 MOBA, with some modest modifications,” according to Riot in a complaint filed in 2017 and made available by Dot Esports. The goal of Moonton’s intended business strategy was to undermine Riot’s ability to protect its intellectual property, and it included the “hide the ball” tactic. Moonton’s plan was intended to do this. While this is going on, Moonton is still making money off of its infringement despite the fact that Riot has served it with numerous notifications of infringement. This is true even though Moonton keeps breaking the law.
The Californian court decided to dismiss the case after deciding that China would be a better place to pursue the matter. Following that, Tencent, the parent company of Riot, got involved and eventually succeeded in getting a $2.9 million judgment against Xu Zhenhua, the CEO of Moonton. The most current legal dispute, however, stems from the fact that Mobile Legends: Bang Bang was left on the market.
Riot claims that Moonton steals not only the game’s gameplay but also its visual appeal. The lawsuit also claims that the Chinese studio plagiarized “esports content, trailers, and even advertising materials.” For example, Moonton changed the logo for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang to a more stern, block-letter style in a gold typeface after Riot changed the League of Legends logo to a new one in 2019. This modification followed Riot’s adoption of a new League of Legends logo.
The audiovisual components of Wild Rift and League of Legends, according to Riot, were primarily developed in California, where Riot is based. Moonton also has “important links” in the US, including a US section that is based in California. It’s unclear how Riot plans to avoid the same situation that led to the last lawsuit’s dismissal due to jurisdictional issues, but it does mention that Moonton has a US division with a California address. It also claims that Moonton has contracted with American company Akamai Technologies to host the servers and network services for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’s North American website, “revealing Moonton’s plan to target MLBB at the United States market.”
In addition to seeking the court to impose a restraining order on Moonton, Riot is also requesting monetary damages, which would cover any profits generated as a result of the infringement, as well as reimbursement for its legal costs. I’ve asked Riot for more details, and as soon as I get a response, I’ll give you an update.