Riot Games is again suing Shanghai Moonton Technology Company (Moonton), but this time is alleging a “deliberate and sustained campaign to free ride on Riot’s highly valuable rights in the mobile videogame League of Legends: Wild Rift”.
Riot and Moonton previous fought in 2017, with Riot suing over Mobile Legends: 5v5 MOBA for infringing on characters, designs, artwork, and more. A California federal judge ruled that China was better able to juristic on the claim and, with the involvement of Tencent – Riot’s owners – a $2.9 million judgement was ruled against Moonton and 5v5 MOBA was removed from app stores.
However, Moonton soon re-released the game as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang with minor changes.
Riot’s new suit specifically alleges infringement on League of Legends: Wild Rift, which had its earliest alpha release in June 2020 and more widely released in 2021. Riot states in the suit that Bang Bang is a “minimally tweaked version of Mobile Legends” and that “over the years, as Riot updated [Wild Rift], Moonton would copy it.
“This is a critical issue for Riot. Moonton has used its copyist tactics to create and market its mobile video game, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, which competes with Wild Rift using Riot’s own extensive, expressive content in Wild Rift itself as well as its trailers, promotional materials, and other content.”
A “shameless” “copy-cat” “rip-off”
Irrregularly, Riot highlights player responses to Mobile Legends: Bang Bang in the suit, claiming “countless blogs and articles are dedicated to the myriad ways Moonton has copied from Riot”.
Within the suit, Riot specifically highlights the logos for League of Legends and Wild Rift, its rebranding in April 2019, and the subsequent rebranding of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang in September 2020.
Although Riot’s previous efforts to file in the US were denied, it is again seeking to do so based on Moonton’s “significant connections to California”, including Moonton Games US’ LinkedIn page listing its location as Culver City, California and no fewer than two artist job lists seeking character artists for its US studio.
Moonton recently launched its first Mobile Legends: Bang Bang NFT collection on January 2022. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is consistently within the global top three most streamed mobile games, and while Wild Rift is a staple within the top 10, it typically sees a significantly lower viewership, as detailed in Upstream: PocketGamer.biz and Stream Hatchet’s mobile games streaming and esports digest.