China’s second-largest video platform claims top competitor infringed its trademark to gain more users.
Chinese video platform Kuaishou has filed a 5 million yuan ($705,000)
lawsuit against Douyin, accusing its rival of “piggybacking” on the
company’s user base by infringing its trademark.
According to a statement in
the lawsuit, which has been accepted by Beijing’s Haidian District
court, Kuaishou claims Douyin used Kuaishou’s name to link to its own
product page on 360 Mobile Assistant, a third-party Android app store.
The plaintiff accused Douyin — known internationally as TikTok — of
infringing Kuaishou’s trademark to display its own product, prompting
users to download the rival app even when they searched for Kuaishou.
by tech titan Tencent, Kuaishou is China’s second-largest
video-streaming platform after Douyin. In February, Kuaishou claimed it
had surpassed 300 million daily active users on its Chinese app, while Douyin revealed it had over 400 million users the previous month.
ByteDance, Douyin’s parent company, told
domestic media on Wednesday that it had filed its own lawsuit against
Kuaishou in March over similar issue, and is looking into its rival’s
Paid content promotion has become common practice among many domestic search engines and other similar platforms, with both Android and Apple
app stores embracing the search strategy. But this often leads users to
third-party sites that profit from their personal information, raising concerns about content quality and impaired functionality.
think what Douyin has done could constitute infringement of Kuaishou's
trademark rights,” Xu Xinming, an intellectual property lawyer at
Beijing Mingtai Law Firm, told Sixth Tone. “If Douyin links Kuaishou as
its key paid search term in its ad rankings, it basically weakens
Kuaishou’s connection to its users, just as Kuaishou argues in its
Usually, third-party service providers don’t have a
legal obligation to review keywords, and it’s also impractical to
analyze every word in the search engine algorithm, Xu said. The lawyer
added that service providers should be more responsible when it comes to
displaying search results.
“If the rights owner discovers
infringement or unfair competition, they can notify the service provider
and ask them to take necessary measures, such as deleting, blocking,
disconnecting links, and more,” Xu said.
Douyin, Kuaishou, and 360
Mobile Assistant did not respond to Sixth Tone’s interview requests by
time of publication. The Haidian District court said the case is under
investigation, and a hearing date has not yet been set.
millions of people homebound during the coronavirus pandemic,
short-video platforms have become some of the most popular means of
entertainment. According to QuestMobile, a Beijing-based consultancy,
average screen time on short-video apps during this year’s extended
Lunar New Year holiday increased
by 27 minutes compared with the same period last year, with Douyin
slightly outperforming Kuaishou in terms of daily active user growth.
competition in China’s overcrowded video market has also led to
numerous court battles between domestic tech titans. In 2018, Douyin sued
Tencent for defamation over an article published on the company’s
flagship social app WeChat. Then later the same year, Tencent and
ByteDance, sued each other over unfair competition.