Riot Games Sues Imba Network For Stealing “League of Legends”

The popular PC game League of Legends has inspired millions of players since its release by Riot Games in 2009. The multiplayer online arena game was novel when it first released, pitting two teams of five players against one another. During gameplay, each player controls a “champion” while other fighters spawn across the map. The player’s goal is to push toward each point, eventually taking down the opposing side’s “nexus.”

Vietnamese video game studio Imba Network allegedly replicated this formula with I am Hero: AFK Tactical Teamfight. Although video game studios routinely use the formulas of other popular games, copyright laws prevent them from using character names, designs, or mythology — all of which Imba Network allegedly did, according to the lawsuit.

For example, Riot Games compared a slide of its own character, “Tomee,” with one from Imba’s, Teemo. The backstories for each character seem nearly identical, suggesting copyright infringement. Reviews for I am Hero also noted similarities between the two games, calling out the Vietnamese studio for theft.

Riot asked that Imba be prevented from selling I am Hero. It also requested $150,000 in damages for the breach of copyright law.

Riot’s parent company Tencent previously won a lawsuit for copyright infringement against Moontoon for their game Mobile Legends for similar reasons. 

Riot Games was recently embroiled in a separate class-action lawsuit for gender discrimination after a 2018 filing. The company agreed to settle the case for $100 million. 

Former employees Melanie McCracken and Jess Negron said the Riot Games workplace was rife with sexual harassment, which led to investigations by the state of California. Popular gaming news site Kotaku likely inspired the inquiries after publishing an expose on the workplace atmosphere over at Riot Games.

Attorney Genie Harrison said of the win, “This is a great day for the women of Riot Games — and for the women at all video game and tech companies — who deserve a workplace that is free of harassment and discrimination.”

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