NetEase Isn't Suing Blizzard - A Disgruntled Gamer Is
Following yesterday's story that former licensing partner NetEase was allegedly
suing Blizzard Entertainment for $43.5 million
Sina Technology has since reported a response
from Activision Blizzard, stating "Blizzard has not received the relevant complaints, but we believe that we have not violated any licensing agreements."
Blizzard replied: "Blizzard has not received a lawsuit at this time, but we believe we have not breached any licensing agreements. The contract terms that NetEase is suspected to be dissatisfied with involve standard industry practice and have been mutually beneficial to both parties over the years. While we are disappointed and confused by these ongoing actions, it is important to note that the nearly two-decade operational history in China has been very positive and enjoyable, and we remain committed to serving and protecting the rights of our local players."
So where did this confusion come from? How did
Chinese media manage to report a lawsuit
against Activision Blizzard without Activision Blizzard even knowing about it? After a great deal of research, we've discovered conflicting court documents which paint a confused, yet telling picture.
The initial filing found on Tianyancha names NetEase and Yang Jun against Blizzard Entertainment and former licensing partner The9.
This first filing is from 天眼查 (Tianyancha), a large data technology service company which collects the public information of more than 2,000 websites such as China Enterprise Credit Information Public Display System, China Judicial Documents Network, China Execution Information Public Network, State Intellectual Property Office, Trademark Office, and so on, which allows users to look up public records - including court information.
It names NetEase and Yang Jun against Blizzard Entertainment and The9 (Blizzard's original licensing partner before NetEase) and at first glance it seems very straightforward... except for the part about The9 - a company which NetEase took over from 14 years ago and shouldn't have much reason to sue.
A filing on competing site Qichacha corroborates this, also naming NetEase and Jang Yun against The9 and Blizzard Entertainment.
Another filing found on 企查查 (Qichacha), an enterprise business information query platform and Tianyancha's direct competitor, corroborates this - naming Yang Jun and NetEase against The9 and Blizzard Entertainment in a way which makes it seem like Jun is somehow associated with NetEase.
Except he isn't associated with NetEase. In fact, he's sued them too. In less than a day, that filing is already old and has since been updated to reflect that Yang Jun is actually suing Blizzard Entertainment and The9 all by himself.
However, the filing on Tianyancha has since been updated to name Jang Yun alone against Blizzard and The9, dropping NetEase's name entirely.
Yang Jun vs. the World
So who exactly is Yang Jun? Based on the initial story, you might have thought he was some sort of legal council, but it turns out he's just a disgruntled gamer and this isn't his first, second, or even third time taking the gaming giants to court.
It turns out Jun previously sued NetEase and The9 in 2009, 2010, and most recently 2019 over World of Warcraft game time, seeking ¥2,000 Yuan (about $288.90 USD) in refunds in a case which was swiftly dismissed. Like
many suits seen in the United States
, he's taken his fight directly against the companies, but these suits often don't go anywhere unless they manage to attract widespread attention. In this case, heightened tensions of Chinese gamers cut off from their favored pastimes highlighted the case, and the misfiling managed to mislead... well everyone, into believing it to be a battle between gaming juggernauts NetEase and Blizzard - former partners now at each other's throats over lost profits! It certainly sounds petty enough to be true.
Jun's original case against NetEase and The9 in 2019, seeking refunds for World of Warcraft game time.
In the case of Yang Jun vs. Shanghai The9 Information Technology Co., Ltd. and Shanghai NetEase Network Technology Development Co., Ltd. regarding a network service contract, this court filed the case on May 23, 2019, and conducted a trial according to law. Yang Jun made the following requests to the court: 1. Request confirmation that the contract, dated December 28, 2018, which changed the payment time of 86,793 minutes for the "World of Warcraft" game account gfhXXX@126.com to 178 Blizzard game points and 472 days of free minutes, is invalid. 2. Request joint liability from both defendants. Demand the conversion of the 86,793 minutes of game payment time into RMB 2,000 at market value and refund it to the plaintiff. 3. Request that the defendants bear the litigation costs.
Therefore, in accordance with Article 216 of the "Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court on the Application of the Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China", it is hereby ruled that Yang Jun's lawsuit is dismissed. The court fee of 50 yuan is halved to 25 yuan, which shall be refunded to Yang Jun by the court.
A Case of Mistaken Appellants
Somehow that first docket was in error, making it seem as though Yang Jun was someone associated with NetEase - perhaps legal council of some sort. More importantly, it specifically named NetEase against Blizzard Entertainment. Based on this, it's not at all surprising that
Chinese media reported NetEase was suing Blizzard
... because that's exactly what the initial filing said.
We still don't know what allowed this mistake, whether a clerical error or if somehow Jun purposefully managed to add NetEase as an appellant in his case rather than the appelle of his previous suit against them, but while the record was quickly changed to drop NetEase entirely, it had already made its way into the public sphere and so the damage was already done.
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