The creators of League of Legends sue Moonton Technology once again in search of retribution.
It’s deja vu all over again. League of Legends studio Riot Games sues Mobile Legends: Bang Bang devs Moonton Technology Co. LTG for the second time, alleging the Shanghai-based studio is ripping off League of Legends: Wild Rift. LoL: Wild Rift is Riot’s iOS and Android adaptation of its globally popular MOBA (the OG League of Legends) for PC. As more and more LoL account owners move to Mobile Legends: Bang Bang in search of greener pastures, the lawsuit filed by Riot’s parent company, Tencent, seeks to stop Moonton from continuing its “sustained and deliberate campaign to piggyback on Riot’s rights” in Wild Rift.
Got Beef, Bro?
The current lawsuit is rooted in a five-year-old feud between Riot Games and Moonton over Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Mobile Legends: 5v5 MOBA. According to Riot’s side, Moonton distributed and developed a mobile game that was designed to trade off their intellectual property. They then accused Moonton of taking aggressive yet cautious steps to camouflage their illegal actions. When Riot notified Google about their case with ML: 5v5 MOBA, Moonton immediately took action and removed it from the Google Play Store. Then, just a few days after, they released a “new” game that we now know as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
When ML: Bang Bang was released, Riot stated that it was not a new game but was a blatant replica of Moonton’s 5v5 MOBA, albeit with some minute changes. Even though Moonton has already received multiple infringement notices from Riot Games, the Chinese developer continues to infringe and profit from it.
Ultimately, the 2017 case was dismissed by the Central District Court of California and ruled that the matter would be better suited to be pursued in China. Tencent had to step in as a last resort and sued Moonton’s CEO, Xu Zhenhua, for non-compete agreement violations in China. In the end, Tencent won $2.8m as a settlement.
Everything could have ended then and there, but another problem surfaced. Following the launch of League of Legends: Wild Rift in 2021, Moonton reportedly issued exclusivity contracts; they gave benefits to organizations that accepted to compete in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and not in Wild Rift.
Riot Games Claims Moonton Plagiarized Almost Everything About LoL
Moonton isn’t just ripping off League of Legends itself. The current lawsuit alleges that the Chinese studio also copied Riot Games’ trailers, esports-related content, and even promotional materials. An example of this is when Riot transitioned to a new logo for their MOBA in 2019. Not long after, Moonton followed suit – adopting a starker, gold font akin to League of Legends’ logo update.
The lawsuit also noted several resemblances between Mobile Legends and League of Legends champions, some being subtle and others almost looking the same. To further support their claim, Riot submitted multiple splash arts for champions and their skins for Wild Rift and compared them to Mobile Legend: Bang Bang’s cast of characters and the communications and assets used on marketing campaigns.
Look at Ahri (in both League of Legends and Wild Rift versions) for starters. The champion’s design for the K/DA skin lineup resembles Moonton’s art for Guinevere’s ‘Psion of Tomorrow’ skin. Besides the two cosmetics looking alike, Tencent claims that both characters perform almost alike.
Another prime example is Riot’s LoL champ Zac and MLBB’s hero Gloo. While Zac’s standard color is lime green, if we look at his Special Weapon Zac skin and compare it to Gloo’s look, both feature the same black and magenta-purple color scheme – they even share the same body shape and distinctive clawed hands. If that doesn’t scream “plagiarism” enough, Zac and Gloo have similar attributes, attacks, abilities, and walking animation.
Doubling down on this, Riot Games even included the reactions from community hubs where people commented on the similarities between both titles.
Things are still murky regarding how Riot plans to keep this lawsuit from being dismissed over jurisdictional questions like last time, but they’ve got an ace up their sleeve that could turn the tides in their favor.
They’ve noted that all of the audiovisual elements made in LoL and Wild Rift were – for the most part – developed in California, where the headquarters for Riot Games is based, and that Moonton also has connections in the US as well. This includes a US division in California. Riot also claims that Moonton has a contract with Akamai Technologies (a US-based company) to host the network services and servers for MLBB’s North American website. These pieces of evidence, at least for Riot Game’s side, reveal that Moonton intends to target active LoL accounts in the United States market and with MLBB.