Unfair Competition With WeChat Data Rights

In China, the first decision on unfair competition with data rights on internet platforms has recently been published. The background: Tencent, the king of social media, owns the data and limited data rights of the 900 million daily users of the app WeChat. It is known that Tencent shares a large part of this data with the Chinese government. Nevertheless, the company has filed a lawsuit against two cooperating Chinese technology companies for unfair competition.

The defendant companies offer social media management software that interacts with the functions of the App WeChat. This software allows users to individually automate and enhance original WeChat functions such as “link” or “share” posts. Additional functions such as deleting spam requests or fake accounts are also possible with this software.

Since the software collects and monitors account and user information and social relations and stores them on the server of one of the defendant companies, the software is considered to be infringing. The Internet Court in Hangzhou has ruled in favour of the WeChat owner Tencent at first instance. The defendant companies will have to pay damages of CNY 2.6 million (approximately €319,000) and take measures to remedy the damage caused. This case is a clear example of how protection against unfair competition in China is also relevant to data.

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