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December 14, 2011

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Battle of 'Dragon Nest' infringement goes to trial

SHANDA Interactive Entertainment went to court against a Shenzhen-based technology company that claimed Shanda infringed its trademark by using a similar name in a popular online game and sought 56 million yuan (US$8.79 million) to sell its trademark, the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court said yesterday.

Shanda, China's No. 2 online game firm, said it received a letter from Shenzhen Teelio Technology Co Ltd on December 8 last year, charging that the Chinese name of Dragon Nest, "Long Zhi Gu," infringed "Long Gu," a registered trademark of Teelio.

Teelio said the two names had no difference in their Chinese meanings as "Zhi" was equal to "zero" in English. In Chinese, long means dragon and gu means valley, a place where according to the game the creature lives.

Before the two companies went to trial, Teelio had asked for 56 million yuan to sell its trademark, or Shanda could pay an annual fee of 12 million yuan to keep using the trademark.

In court, the Shanghai-based Shanda said the two trademarks were registered under different trademark categories with "Long Gu" being a commodity trademark and "Long Zhi Gu" being a service trademark. It said that it should therefore not be considered infringement.

Teelio then pointed out that Shanda had offered a console game version of Dragon Nest as a free download on its official website to attract online game players in July 2010, which was beyond the scope of a service trademark.

Tang Jia, a lawyer for Teelio, said the service trademark applies to computer programs that can be run only under an Internet environment.

"Apparently, Shanda has violated the regulation as the console game can be played even if players do not have access to the Internet," Tang said in court.

Shanda argued that the console-game version of Dragon Nest was free and just served as a guide to help new players get familiar with the online game, like a trailer to moviegoers.

The court also heard Shanda had tried to apply for a commodity trademark of "Long Zhi Gu" in 2009 but was rejected for its strong similarity to "Long Gu" owned by Teelio.

In court, Teelio asked Shanda to stop its infringement and destroy all the products marked with "Long Zhi Gu," claiming that the infringing trademark could mislead the public so that it could hardly distinguish its future software products still under development.


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