Ruling against US game company overturned in copyright case against Lenovo

China’s Supreme People's Court (SPC) on November 24, 2021 reversed a lower court ruling in favor of Chinese multinational technology company Lenovo (Beijing) Limited (联想(北京)有限公司) in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by American game company Playmous, Inc. and remanded the case for further proceedings. The top court on March 15 published the case for its exemplary identification of the proper party as defendant on its official WeChat account.

 

Playmous, Inc., a US-based boutique mobile game developer and publisher, launched a game title Tap the Frog in 2012. Playmous filed a complaint in March 2020 with the Beijing Intellectual Property Court accusing Lenovo Beijing of installing the game application on the mobile phones it manufactured and distributed without Playmous' authorization, seeking 5 million yuan ($790,000) in damages. The complaint said that Lenovo Beijing had been conducting the malpractice since August 2015 and dismissing all cease-and-desist notices Playmous began to issue to it in March 2016.

 

At the trial, Lenovo Beijing argued that it was not the proper party named as defendant on the ground that these allegedly infringing mobile devices were not physically manufactured by it. The trial court agreed with Lenovo Beijing’s arguments and found for it. Playmous appealed the case to the SPC in March 2021.

 

The appeals court found that Lenovo Beijing was the holder of the registered trademark attached to the allegedly infringing products and had commissioned their production to the physical manufacturer and licensed the use of its trademark to it. The appeals court affirmed that Lenovo Beijing was the right party to be sued in the complaint and overturned the trial court ruling.

 

The case docket no. is 2021)最高法知民终455, whose English transliteration is 455, second instance (), civil case (), intellectual property (), (2021) Supreme People’s Court (2021)最高法).