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April 22, 2014

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Unico in court on IPR theft charge

A LAWSUIT filed by US-based Blizzard Entertainment and China’s Wangzhiyi against Shanghai-based Unico Interactive Ltd got under way yesterday at the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court.

The two plaintiffs are demanding 5 million yuan (US$800,000) in compensation for infringement of their intellectual property rights with regard to an online game.

Blizzard, best known for producing the World of Warcraft series of games, and Wangzhiyi, an affiliate of Chinese Internet company NetEase, claim Unico’s online game, Sleeping Dragon: Heroes of the Three Kingdoms, incorporates elements copied from their product, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.

As well as compensation, the plaintiffs have asked for Sleeping Dragon to be taken offline and to cease operation.

In support of their case, Blizzard and Wangzhiyi presented to court a statement from a Unico employee claiming the company developed Sleeping Dragon after failing to get Hearthstone’s activation code.

They also pointed to a statement on Unico’s official website describing Sleeping Dragon as a “Chinese Hearthstone.”

In its defense, Unico said the two games differed significantly, in as far as they were released on different platforms and did not have the same source codes. It said also that while Hearthstone is based on Western cultures, its product is set against the background of the Three Kingdoms of Chinese history.

The plaintiffs had earlier asked Unico to change elements of its game to avoid legal action. While Unico took some action, it was not sufficient to prevent the case reaching court.


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