Bytedance says court overstepped on ‘Honour of Kings’ content ban

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Bytedance’s logo on a building in Shanghai. (Image credit: TechNode/Shi Jiayi)

Bytedance is fighting back against a recent court injunction which banned content related to Tencent’s mobile title “Honour of Kings” from the company’s Jinri Toutiao content aggregator app, according to a statement released on the platform.

Issued on May 30 by a court in Chongqing, the injunction was a preliminary move that banned all pre-recorded videos with “Honour of Kings” in their titles from Jinri Toutiao, save for those from five specified users including the game’s official accounts.

In the statement, Bytedance said that the court’s actions are severely flawed since it issued the injunction solely at Tencent’s request. Bytedance said that the court did not carry out an inquiry or notify the company beforehand. It also urges the authorities to investigate the court’s actions in the statement.

Although such a process is permissible in an emergency or in cases where inquiries could render injunctions ineffective, Bytedance argues that this is not one of those scenarios. However, according to the court’s opinion, the case qualifies as an emergency, according to court documents that Tencent sent to TechNode. Due to “Jinri Toutiao’s enormous active user base and the relatively long time it takes to reach a final decision,” (our translation) the loss of market share and opportunities in the absence of a ban could cause Tencent “irreparable damage,” the ruling stated.

Bytedance also accused the court of unlawfully expanding the scale of the ban. While Tencent requested Jinri Toutiao to remove all unauthorized videos containing “Honour of Kings” gameplay footage, the injunction required the platform to delete all videos with “Honour of Kings” in their titles, even if the content is not related to the game.

Bytedance’s vice president Li Liang reposted the company’s statement on his Jinri Toutiao account with the comment, “No matter how good the relationship is, legal procedures are still necessary, even if they are just a mere formality,” (our translation).

This is the ninth ban in seven months that Tencent has requested against Bytedance that seeks to remove content related to Tencent’s games from Bytedance apps, with six of the nine lawsuits filed in May alone. The cases cover some of the most popular titles in China, including “League of Legends,” “Honour of Kings,” and “CrossFire.”

So far, the court motions have been advantageous for Tencent. In addition to the May 30 injunction, a court in Guangzhou also ruled in favor of Tencent, requiring Bytedance’s Xigua Video to remove all “Honour of Kings” content.

Bytedance declined to comment further when reached by TechNode.