Local video game company ordered to pay TWD24 million for copyright infringement
E190322Y3 | Apr. 2019（E233）
Soft-World International Corporation (智冠科技股份有限公司; “Soft-World International”) sued Heluo Games Co., Ltd. (河洛遊戲有限公司; “Heluo”) over plagiarism when it came to Soft-World International’s knowledge that Heluo plagiarized Soft-World International’s video game “武林群俠傳” (pronounced “wu lin qun xia zhuan” in Chinese; hereinafter “Soft-World International’s product”) to make its own video game “俠客風雲傳” (pronounced “xia ke feng yun zhuan” in Chinese; hereinafter “Heluo’s product”). Taiwan IP Court sustained Heluo’s infringement upon Soft-World International’s copyright, ordering that Heluo and its responsible person shall pay TWD24 million to Soft-World International and shall cease in distributing or transmitting in public Heluo’s product and also publish the main text of the Taiwan IP Court’s judgment on the front page of local newspapers for one day. This case is appealable.
According to Soft-World International, four employees of their game development division successfully developed Soft-World Internaitonal’s product in August 2001. One male employee of the four is surnamed Hsu, who subsequently started his own business of a game company, Heluo and also launched Heluo’s product in July 2015. After receiving information from gamers that the story, operation interface, characters, etc. of Heluo’s product are extremely similar to those of Soft-World International’s product, and also knowing that Heluo even promoted and marketed their product with an advertising description that “Heluo’s product is a new version of Soft-World Internaitonal’s product”, Soft-World International filed a lawsuit against Heluo, asserting that Heluo infringed upon its copyright by plagiarizing and adapting Soft-World Internaitonal’s product.
Hsu defended himself and denied the infringement occurrence alleged against him by the following assertions. At the time when Heluo’s product was launched on market, the Taiwan Biweekly Game Magazine referred to Heluo’s product as the “new version” of Soft-World Internaitonal’s product, which Soft-World International should have already known. In addition, the game disk, instruction, and packaging box were manufactured by Soft-World International as well. The foregoing facts make it unreasonable for Soft-World International to not file a lawsuit until June 2017, a point of time when the statute of limitations for seeking damages against Heluo already lapsed. Moreover, Hsu negated the alleged infringement by arguing that the story, characters, conversations of Heluo’s product are more diversified than those of Soft-World Internaitonal’s product.
After thorough investigation, the IP Court established the occurrence of Heluo’s infringement upon Soft-World International’s copyright because of the high similarity between the two products in design and personality of characters, events and stories, scenes, conversations, moves of martial art, and even weapons. In consideration of Heluo’s profits accumulated in an amount of TWD48.59 million by selling Heluo’s product and also the profits distribution as agreed by and between Soft-World International and Heluo, the IP Court ruled that Heluo and Hsu shall pay Soft-World International TWD24 million in damages. (March 2019)