Riot Games vs Moonton - A Timeline of Events
Riot Games is reportedly suing Shanghai Moonton Technology Co. for the third time at the Los Angeles Federal Court for copying assets from League of Legends (LoL) and League of Legends: Wild Rift. This is not the first time that Riot is taking action against Moonton. Riot Games’ parent company Tencent had secured $2.9 million in a lawsuit against Moonton CEO Xu Zhenhua in China in 2018. Here is a timeline of events of the legal battles between Riot Games and Moonton.
2009 - League of Legends is Launched
League of Legends launched in 2009. It quickly became an international phenomenon and the game is still going strong in 2022 with Riot diversifying the IP (Intellectual Property) and expanding to League of Legends: Wild Rift, Legends of Runeterra, Teamfight Tactics, Ruined King, and other titles.
2015 - Magic Rush: Heroes is Launched
Moonton Games launched a real-time strategy (RTS) game with tower defense elements. League of Legends fans started calling out the game for copying elements from League of Legends including complete character kits.
At the time, Annie from League of Legends had a summonable bear (Tibbers) and she could cast a single-target spell, an area of effect (AOE) attack and every fifth spell cast by Annie stunned enemies.
Magic Rush’s Emily had very similar mechanics. She could summon a mechanical monster that stunned enemies and her spells were identical. Just like Annie, every fifth attack also stunned enemies and LoL fans were not happy with the “inspired” design choices.
2016 - Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is launched.
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) was launched in 2016 by Moonton which is a subsidiary of ByteDance. The game caught the attention of League of Legends fans and Riot Games for striking similarities which led to a being filed at the Central District Court of California.
2018 - Case Dismissed vs Riot Games
The case against Moonton was dismissed on grounds of forum non conviens according to Forham. It means that the lawsuit was dismissed so another court could hear the case more conveniently. The case was moved to China and a fresh lawsuit was filed by Riot Games’ parent company Tencent against Moonton with Moonton CEO Xu Zhenhua as the representative.
2018 - Tencent Wins $2.9 Million in Lawsuit
According to a , Tencent filed a non-disclosure and non-compete lawsuit against Xu Zhenhua at the No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court. A separate copyright-related lawsuit in Shenzhen filed by Tencent names Moonton as a defendant and Xu Zhenhua as the company’s representative in the suit.
Xu Zhenhua was originally only going to pay Tencent 2.6 million RMB (about $388,000 USD) but it was revised to $2.9 Million USD. Xu Zhenhua was named in the court document in which the fine was levied and not Moonton.
In the original lawsuit filed in California, Riot said that Moonton had allegedly earned millions of dollars by copying League of Legends.
2020 - Wild Rift is Released
While League of Legends was allegedly copied by Mobile Legends Bang Bang. League of Legends is a PC-only title while MLBB is a mobile esports title. The games did not directly compete with each other, that is until the release of Wild Rift in 2020. Wild Rift is a mobile version of League of Legends. Wild Rift is now directly competing against MLBB In the mobile gaming market.
2022 - Riot Games Sues Moonton, Again
Riot’s states that it “seeks to stop Moonton from continuing its deliberate and sustained campaign to free ride on Riot’s highly valuable rights in the mobile video game League of Legends: Wild Rift and related content.”
The lawsuit has been filed in the United States (US) District Court for the Central District of California and the mobile esports world will have to wait and see which way the tide turns in the legal battle.