Tencent files RMB 1 lawsuit against Bytedance for unfair competition

Chinese technology giant Tencent has filed a lawsuit worth RMB 1 against Bytedance and Microvision Technology for alleged unfair competition and damaging its reputation on the companies’ Douyin and Jinri Toutiao platforms.

The primary focus of the lawsuit seems to be a request for a public apology on the offending companies’ media platforms and suspended business cooperations with the two firms.

Tencent said numerous disparaging articles, videos, and statements had been disseminated on Douyin and Jinri Toutiao, thereby denigrating the company. It also said Douyin misleadingly stated to its users that Tencent had blocked the platform’s video links.

While it is true that the company barred Douyin’s videos, the ban was not limited to Bytedance’s video platform. Following a regulator-imposed crackdown on “inappropriate” content, Tencent blocked short videos from Douyin, Kauishou, Watermelon Video, and its own Weishi platform from being played within its messaging apps. The ban was lifted but posting videos from Douyin to WeChat is still a bit difficult.

Tencent also said that the platforms had belittled the company’s executives. Additionally, Zhang Jun, the company’s public relations director, said Jinri Toutiao had wrongfully attributed and republished an article that was critical of Tencent, thereby misleading readers.

The company said it believes Bytedance had deliberately attacked Tencent using its media platforms, and in doing so attempted to weaken the competitiveness of its rival. It said the company’s actions constitute slander and unfair competition.

The lawsuit is the most recent move in an ongoing feud between the two companies. Bytedance lost a court case against Tencent in July 2017 over copyright violations. It then announced it planned to take Tencent to court for a negative article that circulated on WeChat.  Most recently, Bytedance’s Zhang Yiming and Tencent’s Pony Ma exchanged words on WeChat Moments. Zhang said that despite copyright infringements by Tencent and WeChat barring of Douyin videos, the company would continue to grow. Ma said Zhang’s comments amounted to defamation.