ChinaJoy experts advise on gaming IPR
By Zhang Jing (
Updated: 2011-07-31

Du Bin, chief executive of Beijing-based YOKA Games, publishes an add-on package to its board game, Sanguosha at this year’s China Digital Entertainment Expo and conference (ChinaJoy), hoping to further differentiate itself from Sanguozhan.

Sanguosha (Killers of Three Kingdoms) and Sanguozhan (Thrillers of Three Kingdoms) sound like twins on the same gaming product line, but they are not., parent company of YOKA, is in the process of suing the latter for intellectual property rights violation.

KTK is currently the most popular board game in China, occupying 80 percent of the market share of 30 million board game players. Named after Chinese classic novel, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, it is one of the first original card-based role-playing games with Chinese elements, where each card/role is given distinct skills, weapons and personalities as described in the novel. It has won millions of fans among Chinese worldwide, ranging from 10- to 60-year-olds.

"TTK showed up one year after KTK's debut in 2008. The former highly resembles the latter to an extent of 80 percent, and it is encroaching the latter’s market share and profit by running similar game rules," said Lin Hua, legal representative of

The Message, or Fengsheng in Chinese, is another board game that has suffered from piracy. Its business has been hit hard by a number of followers who mimicked its name and game rules ever since its debut in Guangzhou.

"It is difficult for gaming companies to find support from current Chinese legal regulations to protect their business models or game rules,” said Tao Xinliang, dean of Institute of Intellectual Property Rights with Tongji University.

"The best way for KTK to defend its rights might be through suing TTK according to the Law Against Competition by Inappropriate Means," said Yuan Zhenfu, deputy director of Shanghai Research Institute of Intellectual Property Rights.

"In Europe, game companies are investing a lot of money in transitioning to online. When games become services instead of content, and there is no way you can copy an experience," said Ivan Fernandez Lobo, director of Gamelab Conference, a Spanish games association based in Madrid.

"An idea by itself is worthless. The important thing is how good you can implement it, and that is something one cannot copy," added Lobo.

"Besides appealing to media and legal system, we are fighting against piracy and IPR violations by giving our customers more added-value experiences and building an inter-active community," said Pan Enlin, chief executive of

Pan says when a customer buys a set of KTK cards, he or she is given the privilege of better experience online, which is not available from competitors. Bianfeng is planning to build its own Instant Messaging (IM) system with better user application software, where over 10 million of its active registered users can exchange ideas and experience.

"A copier cannot duplicate a community of this size, and this is how we will win,” said Pan.