Mobile messaging

1 yuan at stake in Guangdong's first WeChat-linked IPO infringement trial

A Zhongshan-based company accused of stealing content and placing it on WeChat to earn promotional fees

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 2:38pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 April, 2015, 11:12am

A Guangdong court is hearing the province’s first intellectual property infringement case that has sprung from the phenomenally popular messaging app WeChat.

Zhongshan Baofeng Technologies is accused of stealing another firm’s “original, carefully crafted” content and reposting it via WeChat’s blogging function, Xinhua reported.

The defendant was accused of earning promotional fees off it.

The plaintiff, Zhongshan Manufacturers Housing Networking Technologies, is demanding a symbolic 1 yuan (HK$1.26) in compensation, according to the Yangcheng Evening News.

Baofeng Technologies allegedly lifted content, including posts on the hot news of the day, dining and entertainment.

WeChat’s blogging function allows users to repost content from social media or internet sites, but it is up to the person reposting to assign the proper credit.

In some cases, the defendant was accused of slightly modifying the wording, but it was still eerily similar enough – and without any credit – to prompt some users to call the second firm’s attention.

The defendant’s representatives did not appear in court on the day of the trial, Xinhua reported.

Since a cross-examination was impossible, the judge has called a recess and will choose a sentencing date.

WeChat, technology giant Tencent’s massively popular text and voice messaging app, was founded in January 2011.

As of last October, its traffic has grown to more than 600 million users, Xinhua reported. The app’s popularity, however, has also given rise to concerns about authorities’ censorship and privacy.

Several dissenters’ official WeChat accounts were closed down earlier this year. Tencent did not immediately respond to requests for comment.