SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA -- (Marketwire) -- 12/08/09 -- Webzen, Inc. (NASDAQ: WZEN) (KOSDAQ: 069080), a developer of popular MMORPG game 'MU,' announced that they had begun pursuing trademark litigation against their Chinese service distribution partner, The9 Limited, for trademark agreement and transfer rights violation with MU.
Webzen first filed the trademark transfer lawsuit at Seoul District Court, mandating The9 to transfer their trademark title of MU which was registered since 2002 in Chinese National Chamber of Commerce to Webzen, Inc.
Webzen claims that The9 violated the trademark transfer provision of their contract signed in 2003, stating that The9 shall transfer all of MU-related trademarks to Webzen per Webzen's request as well as restraining from all of MU-related copyright infringement.
Webzen also made clear that this lawsuit is to reserve their trademark rights for MU from The9. Webzen had previously allowed The9 to register MU under The9 in order to provide smooth initial service distribution to China, however Webzen still reserved the trademark right of MU, and The9 had an obligation to transfer their title to Webzen per their request.
The9 had been the service provider of MU in China. The dispute between Webzen and The9 began in June, 2009 when The9 revealed with teaser movies and original graphic works of their own MMORPG named MUX in the well-known Chinese game show 'China Joy 2009,' commenting that MUX will be the sequel to the MU series. As the original developer of MU, Webzen began trademark and copyright infringement with The9.
Since MUX was revealed, Webzen had requested The9 to cease any usage of MU in MUX brand and correct their comment about MUX being the sequel to MU, but The9 has been avoiding commenting or taking any action.
The9 announced through their webpage that MUX is their own 2.5D online game and will first reveal the game to the consumers during 2009.
As the dispute grew, The9 changed MUX into the full name, Miracle: Ultimate X, on their disclosure from September, 2009 but they are still using MUX on their official website.
The officials from Webzen commented, "Not only their MUX title confuses the users with our trademark of MU, but MUX also imitated MU's original background music and main characters as well."
Webzen is also preparing to file a complaint against The9 and MUX to Korea and China Copyrights Commission in order to protect their trademarks and copyrights of MU.
Chang-Guen Kim, the CEO of Webzen, Inc. said, "We have tried to settle the dispute with The9 for the last four months in order to maintain our partnership with The9, but we have not received any cooperation from them. Not only MU Online is Webzen's primary online game product, but it is also an important figure in the history of Korean MMORPG industry, and the development of the official MU2 is on the way. We have decided to take strong action against The9 in order to protect MU's brand and trademark."
MU Online was first introduced to China through The9 in 2003, and it has reached over 9 Billion Yuan in first month revenues. The popularity of MU grew significantly as MU's game storyline was published as novel for the first time in the MMORPG genre, and MU has been one of the most popular MMORPG games in Korea and China for 8 years.
About WEBZEN, Inc.
Founded in 2000 and based in Seoul, South Korea, WEBZEN, Inc. (NASDAQ: WZEN) (KOSDAQ: 069080) has become a leader in the MMOG market and has developed some of the world's top online game and client/server technologies. WEBZEN is continuing the tradition of MU Online, which boasts more than 56 million registered users, with Soul of the Ultimate Nation: World Edition, Huxley: the Dystopia and an array of exciting game titles slated for release in the world's game market. For more information on the company and its products, please visit www.webzen.com
< Reference >
-- Started its commercial service in November, 2001, Korea -- Started its commercial service in November, 2002, Taiwan -- Started its commercial service in February, 2003, China -- Started its commercial service in February, 2004, Japan -- Started its commercial service in May, 2005, Philippines -- The License Agreement signed with K2 Network in 2005 to transfer the global publishing rights. -- 'Webzen.com' started 'Global MU Online service' in June, 2009.
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