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Antitrust publishing lawsuit heard by local court

A BEIJING-BASED online book publisher has accused a local competitor of abusing its market-leading position by telling two authors to stop writing for the Beijing Website, a local court heard yesterday.

It is the first monopoly dispute a local court has handled since China's Antitrust Law came into effect on August 1 last year.

Beijing Sursen Electronic Co Ltd, which runs, is suing Shanghai Shanda Network Development Co Ltd and Shanghai Xuanting Entertainment Information and Technology Co Ltd at the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court. Sursen believes the two companies are co-managing

The plaintiff accused the defendants of abusing their dominant role in the market to create a monopoly. It is seeking a public apology and 16,820 yuan (US$2,463) in damages.

Sursen said it asked two writers to create a sequel to a popular fairy story, "Xing Chen Bian," which was originally published on Qidian in May 2008.

But, according to Sursen, Qidian told the two writers to stop writing the sequel and ordered them to apologize on the Qidian Website.

"The two writers had to stop writing for fear that they would be driven out of their writing network because Qidian has a dominant position in the market," said Sun Ying, Sursen's attorney. "There is no law to stipulate that the writer of a sequel must obtain approval from the author of the original novel," Sun said.

Shanda denied it ran the Website with Xuanting. It said it just offered a payment platform for Xuanting.

Xuanting denied it had a dominant role in the industry. It said the three Websites Sursen mentioned belonged to three unrelated companies.

Xuanting denied it had told the two authors to stop writing for Sursen.

"The two authors stopped writing voluntarily since they realized they had violated our copyright on the original novel," said Lin Tao, the attorney for Xuanting. The court didn't announce a verdict yesterday.


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