TikTok-owner ByteDance announced on Tuesday that it is suing fellow Chinese social media giant and arch-rival Tencent Holdings in a Beijing court for monopolistic behaviour, asking for 90 million yuan ($13.94 million) as compensation. This move adds another piece on the board that shows the ongoing feud between the two Chinese giants.
The reason behind the filing of the court complaint is Tencent’s restriction on its users from sharing Douyin content on its instant messaging apps WeChat and QQ, which should be prohibited by anti-monopoly law. ByteDance also said that it has asked the court to order Tencent to stop such behaviour and desist with such actions. Douyin happens to be the Chinese counterpart of TikTok.
“We believe that competition is better for consumers and promote innovation,” Douyin revealed in a statement. “We have filed a lawsuit to protect our rights and those of our users.”
In answer, Tencent described ByteDance’s allegations as “false” and “malicious,” and that it had not received any materials pertaining to Douyin’s complaint. It countered that many products developed by ByteDance, including Douyin, obtain the personal information of WeChat users by illegal methods. ByteDance has not released any comment on Tencent’s remarks.
ByteDance has been competing with Tencent in social media in China, eating away at its lead bit by bit. Tuesday marks the third instance of the two giants suing each other in court. The first time was in 2018 when ByteDance sued Tencent for anti-competitive behaviour, alleging Tencent’s social platform QQ zone and its Guanjia software blocked ByteDance’s news aggregator Toutiao’s links. At the same time, Tencent had filed a lawsuit accusing ByteDance of defamation around the same time.
The lawsuit by Douyin comes months after Chinese regulators stepped up regulations on the tech giants. Beijing in November had issued draft regulations to prevent monopolistic behaviour by Internet firm. That was the first serious regulatory move in China against the sector. Tencent-backed China literature had been fined 5, 00, 000 yuan in December for not reporting past deals in the proper manner for anti-trust reviews. An anti-trust investigation was also launched against e-commerce giant Alibaba in December.