Guangzhou Nansha People’s Court has issued a ruling to stop live-streaming platform Douyu from lodging complaints against Huya on Apple’s App Store, news outlet Dayoo News reported.
The ruling took effect immediately and will last until the court reaches a final decision. This is the first court ruling in China that prohibits companies from submitting complaints to app stores, the report says.
The dispute started with three livestreamers who signed contracts to perform exclusively on Douyu but then started livestreaming shows on Huya. Douyu claimed that they began working with Huya before their Douyu contracts expired, and Huya maintained that the livestreamers terminated their contracts with Douyu prior to joining Huya.
Douyu soon followed up with a string of complaints to Apple’s App Store. It accused Huya of copyright infringement and requested that Apple take down the two Huya apps related to the alleged infringement, Huya Livestreaming and Huya Livestreaming HD. The number of complaints from Douyu about Huya dated August 2018 to February 2019 totals 23.
Huya filed a lawsuit against Douyu in January 2019, claiming that the complaints are malicious and defamatory. Huya also asked for an injunction to halt Douyu’s complaints in the same filing.
According to excerpts of the court ruling obtained by Securities Daily (in Chinese), Douyu’s goal is “not to stop Huya from using the content from the three livestreamers who are related to the case, but to delete Huya apps entirely from the App Store” (our translation). This behavior is intended to “eradicate competitors and gain market share” and “is not justified,” the court concluded.
Douyu told Securities Daily that they have applied for a review of the case.
The founder and CEO of Huya’s parent company, Li Xueling, reposted a news article on Friday about the ruling in his WeChat Moments with a comment that Douyu “couldn’t beat us, so they acted shamelessly” (our translation).
Douyu and Huya are two of the largest live-streaming platforms in China and are both backed by Tencent. They have been in a war for live-streaming talent for the past few years, luring celebrity livestreamers to jump ship with larger and larger paychecks.
Huya’s total revenues reached RMB 4.66 billion (around $678 million) in 2018. It also had 116.6 million monthly active users (MAU) as of the fourth quarter of 2018, according to its financial report filings. In comparison, Douyu reportedly brought in revenue of around RMB 4 billion in 2018.