Blizzard Entertainment's Korean e-sports broadcast + partner Gretech and Blizzard Entertainment has announced today that they have filed the lawsuit against MBCPlus Media (henceforth referred as MBCGame) in October 28th for IP rights violation and unauthorized use of the product.
Blizzard Entertainment has always protected their content against the companies who would use Blizzard's IP property for commercial business purposes. Worldwide, e-sports related broadcasters, when they do a tournament or broadcasting using Blizzard games, they have always gotten a license from Blizzard to do so, in accordance to the international IP rights laws. Through that, they acknowledge and support Blizzard's ownership of the IP. But in 2007, Blizzard found certain e-sports groups in Korea were partaking in illegal deals in regards to StarCraft tournament rights and broadcasting rights without Blizzard's permission.
Specifically, MBCGame has run e-sports tournaments such as BigFile MSL and STX Cup without acquiring legal sublicense from GomTV or license from Blizzard, and continued to produce many events and programs relating to StarCraft. From 2007 to now, there have been multiple attempts for a fair negotiation with MBCGame, but nothing came out of it. Thus, Blizzard Entertainment and GomTV has declared to MBCGame that they will sue them with every method available to protect Blizzard Entertainment's IP rights. Despite this, MBCGame continued to broadcast StarCraft content. MBCGame then stated they will force MSL in October 26th, making it impossible to avoid a lawsuit.
GomTV's representative, Bae In Sik, stated, "This act from MBCGame is done so willingly and purposefully to acknowledge that they have violated Blizzard's IP rights. Every time there has been some progress made in the negotiation, they have brought forth new terms, resetting the entire negotiation process, we have realized that the lawsuit is the final choice we have left in regards to MBCGame's IP rights violation. We've stated multiple times, our vision of e-sports is to protect IP rights of the original developer while developing e-sports business."
Blizzard Entertainment's COO, Paul Sams, stated, "We did our absolute best during last 3 years to state a fair and balanced negotiations, but we never received any fair terms stated, and it is unfortunate that we must find our solution in the courts as our final resort. We are certainly proud of StarCraft's position in e-sports, and we know very well that there are many players and e-sports fans who wish to continue StarCraft tournaments and events. Players and viewers are very important to us, and our ultimate goal is to provide them with the best experience using Blizzard's content."
Paul Sams added, "We've always believed firmly that StarCraft leagues can co-exist with GSL, and we hope that MBCGame can continue broadcasting StarCraft tournaments and events. But, for this to happen, it is important to finish licensing negotiations in order to protect our IP rights first. Once negotiations involving StarCraft successfully ends, and MBCGame shows the necessary trust -- needed for a successful business relations -- to cooperate with us, we are more than willing to provide a negotiation for licensing StarCraft 2."
Paul Sams re-emphasized Blizzard's e-sports plans focus around supporting global game communities and developing them further through high level of quality from Blizzard games, rather than profits. Blizzard continued supporting e-sports through game patches, and supporting leagues and tournaments. Broadcasters are taking in all the benefits, but at the same time, refuse to acknowledge basic IP rights of Blizzard regarding StarCraft.
This May, Blizzard Entertainment and GomTV finalized a partnership deal where GomTV will be the sole e-sports broadcaster and rights holder for the Blizzard games -- including StarCraft, WarCraft 3, World of WarCraft, StarCraft II, and its expansions. With this, any group who wishes to broadcast or support Blizzard games in e-sports, for commercial purposes, must acquire a sublicense from GomTV. In order to continue finding a way to end the negotiation, Blizzard and GomTV introduced a 3rd party arbitrator in the negotiation with MBCGame, and this negotiation will continue even while lawsuit is in progress.