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choi moi choi moi 10 November 2022 Follow

(Reuters) - ByteDance's Shanghai Moonton Technology Co Ltd does not have to face Riot Games Inc's copyright lawsuit over allegations that Moonton copied parts of the mobile version of Riot's hit "League of Legends," according to a ruling in Los Angeles federal court.

West Los Angeles-based Riot's lawsuit was dismissed Tuesday because the dispute could adequately be heard in China and Riot's parent company, Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, refused to join the case and provide crucial information, U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald said.



Fitzgerald said it was unclear which elements of the "League of Legends" game were made by Riot and which were made by Tencent, which is important to Moonton's defenses.

It "remains unfair to allow Riot and Tencent to bring a two-front war against Moonton unless and until Tencent decides to show up on both battlefields," Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said Riot could refile specific claims that do not survive in China in the U.S., but that its California lawsuit brought "precisely the type of allegations that the Court already concluded can be adequately redressed in China."

"For years, the parties have been litigating highly related copyright claims in China that raise many of the same issues that Riot is now trying to re-raise in the U.S.,” Moonton attorney Ajay Krishnan of Keker, Van Nest & Peters said in a statement. "It would have been duplicative, inefficient, and wholly unfair to proceed with this case in the U.S., where Moonton would lack access to key evidence and witnesses."

Riot's associate general counsel Dan Nabel said in an email that the company strongly disagrees with the decision and is considering an appeal.

"The idea of having U.S. citizens apply for M5 visas to fly overseas in order to ask a Chinese court for relief concerning works that were both created and infringed in the U.S. defies common sense," Nabel said.

Riot sued Moonton in May, alleging Moonton's "Mobile Legends: Bang Bang" copies elements including user interfaces, characters designs and promotional materials from "League of Legends: Wild Rift."

Riot previously sued in the same court in 2017, alleging "Bang Bang" and other Moonton games copied from the computer version of "League of Legends." Fitzgerald also dismissed that case after finding it would be better heard in China.

"The question is whether circumstances have truly changed from those that existed in 2017 or whether Riot simply seeks a second bite at the apple, unhappy with the progress (or lack thereof) in the still ongoing, parallel China litigation," Fitzgerald said Tuesday. "The Court deems the latter to be the case."


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