Riot Games, the developer behind League of Legends (LoL), has filed a lawsuit against ByteDance Ltd.'s Shanghai Moonton Technology Co., the developer of Mobile Legends, claiming that it copied "Wild Rift," LoL's mobile version.
In the lawsuit filed in the District of California, the Tencent-owned developer alleged that Moonton, now owned by TikTok's parent company, kept copying content and even promotional material from LoL and its other spinoff games for Mobile Legends.
"Today, Riot Games filed suit against Shanghai Moonton Technology alleging copyright infringement. This action seeks to stop Moonton from continuing its deliberate and sustained campaign to free ride on Riot’s highly valuable League of Legends: Wild Rift and related content," Riot said in a statement provided to Yahoo Gaming SEA.
The LoL developer also mentioned that there have been "blatant copying".
"Over the years, as Riot has updated Wild Rift, Moonton would copy it. Today’s filing follows years of serial copying," the company said.
Riot's suit claims that Moonton "has used its copyist tactics to create and market its mobile video game, Mobile Legends", which "competes with Wild Rift using Riot's extensive, expressive content in the game itself, as well as in its promotional materials".
"As just one egregious example, two weeks ago Moonton promoted an upcoming esports event with a blatant ripoff of music created by Riot composers and beloved by League players. In the filing and its exhibits, we provide numerous other detailed side-by-side comparisons of Riot’s creations and Moonton’s copies. This copying must stop," Riot's statement further said.
Some of the examples cited by Riot of Mobile Legends allegedly copying LoL include Moonton copying the LoL logo, including its font style, size, and colour.
The LoL developer alleged that Moonton even went so far as changing and copying the new LoL logo one year after it was released.
Riot's complaint also mentioned that “as recently as April 2022, Moonton has continued to develop and update MLBB, including by releasing additions and updates to the game, along with new promotional materials.”
This allegedly included artwork, splash art, avatars, skills, skins and more.
One example provided by Riot Games is Ahri’s KDA skin, which was released in 2018 for LoL and 2020 for Wild Rift, and is allegedly similar to Guinevere’s Psion of Tomorrow skin, released in April 2022.
According to Riot, Ahri was not the only LoL champion that was copied. Zac, released in LoL in 2013, allegedly bears a lot of similarities with Mobile Legends' Gloo.
Riot claims both characters have the same magenta, purple, and black color scheme, clawed hands, and body forms.
In the games, the two characters also allegedly have identical walks, attacks, characteristics, and powers, Riot said.
Mobile Legends' Baxia "Ba-tender" skin was also cited as having alleged similarities with LoL champions Braum and Graves.
Riot further claimed that Moonton allegedly mixed and matched LoL champions to create Mobile Legends characters.
In 2021, Arcane, the LoL animated series on Netflix, prominently featured the champion Vi.
Mobile Legends' upcoming new character, Julian, was cited by Riot as allegedly having the same, androgynous features and hairstyle as Vi.
Riot also said Julian’s chain weapon was allegedly similar to that of another LoL champion, Sylas.
The LoL developers said in the lawsuit that "Riot produces video games for which it receives revenue from in-game purchases".
"Moonton’s willful infringement robs Riot of these revenues and will continue to do so unless enjoined. Specifically, its creation of a knockoff video game (a) allows Moonton to profit commercially without investing in the creativity and marketing ingenuity that Riot has, thereby undermining Riot’s willingness to create new content for Wild Rift and LoL," Riot wrote in the suit.
When contacted, a MOONTON Games spokesperson told Yahoo Gaming SEA that the company was aware of Riot's "recent complaints" over the "immensely popular" MLBB.
"Since its launch in 2016, it has inspired millions of players around the world and brought a community of gamers together. While it is unfortunate that MLBB’s success has made it a target, MOONTON Games stands by MLBB and the countless artists, engineers, and employees who bring it to life each day," the spokesperson said.
This isn’t the first time that Riot has sued for copyright infringement over LoL.
In 2018, Tencent Holdings, Riot’s parent company, won US$2.9 million in a lawsuit against Moonton CEO Xu Zhenhua (the non-disclosure and non-compete lawsuit was against Xu for US$2.9 million, not against MOONTON Games as a whole).
This came after Riot had taken Moonton to court in the United States in 2017, alleging copyright infringement of LoL, only for the case to be dismissed forum non conviens, a legal term that meant that the case would be better heard in another jurisdiction.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.