Court prohibits Bytedance-owned video app streaming Tencent’s Honour of Kings

2 min read
(Screenshot of Tencent Games’ Honour of Kings)

Guangzhou’s Intellectual Property Court has issued an injunction to stop Bytedance-owned video app Watermelon Video from streaming shows that involve Tencent’s wildly popular mobile game, Honour of Kings, according to media outlet Legal Daily (in Chinese).

The injunction, which came out on Jan. 31, ruled that the three companies related to Watermelon Video—Yuncheng Sunlight Media, Bytedance-owned aggregator Jinri Toutiao, and Bytedance—infringed upon Tencent’s Honour of King’s copyright by broadcasting for-profit live video streams of the game. It ordered them to immediately stop any streams related to the game. This is the first injunction related to video game livestreaming in China.

A Tencent spokesperson declined to provide further information. Bytedance was not immediately available for comment.

As of publication, Honour of Kings could not be found on Watermelon Video. However, the mobile game’s international version, Arena of Valor, is still listed on the front page of the app. Also on the front page are several other games operated by Tencent in China, including League of Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), and PUBG mobile.

In addition, two announcements in the app tell players of the rewards League of Legends streamers can collect by being at the top of the leaderboard and having their in-game IDs start with “Jinri Toutiao” or “Watermelon.”

Tencent’s user agreement for all of its games states that users are not allowed to record, stream or spread Tencent games-related content without its authorization.

After Watermelon Video started to recruit video game livestreamers, including Honour of Kings content, Tencent took the matter to court, Legal Daily reported. The live-streaming app also listed prizes that streamers could receive for joining, as well as how revenue would be divided between streamers and the platform. Tencent accused the three companies behind Watermelon Video of copyright infringement and unfair competition.

According to records from Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court, the evidence Tencent submitted proves that the Honour of Kings livestreams on Watermelon Video are not livesteamers’ individual actions but part of Watermelon Video’s coordinated live-streaming campaign.

Since the three companies did not invest in the development and operation of the game, nor did they acquire authorization from Tencent and pay related fees, they have damaged Tencent’s legitimate interests by organizing for-profit live-streaming shows, the court said in the ruling.