Baidu and ByteDance in legal tug of war

The feud between the two Chinese tech giants is reaching a whole new level.

credit: DFIC

Legal disputes between Chinese tech behemoths are commonplace, but the two fresh lawsuits announced by Baidu and ByteDance take this particular feud to a whole new level.

Baidu announced today that it filed a lawsuit against ByteDance in the Haidian district court in Beijing because the latter’s flagship news aggregation app Jinri Toutiao had stolen search results from Baidu’s search engine product. Hours later, ByteDance filed its own lawsuit with Baidu as the defendant in the same district court, alleging that Baidu had stolen a huge amount of videos clips from its viral short video app Douyin.

Both companies demand of the other to pay an RMB 90-million compensation and publish apologies on their apps and website index pages for 30 days.

The squabble between the two companies began after ByteDance started exploring the search business. It expanded its search function on Jinri Toutiao last month, which could eventually pose a threat to Baidu’s core business.

Scraping results and data from other companies’ digital platforms constitutes unfair competition, Zhao Zhanling, a lawyer with the Beijing Zhilin Law Firm which specializes in IT law told KrASIA.

However, the legal costs for these kinds of unfair competition practices are “relatively low” and hence they are “quite common” among Chinese internet companies, according to Zhao.

“The revision of the anti-unfair competition law went underway recently. The changes may include raising compensation limits and increasing administrative punishment. Hopefully, it will help curb this kind of unfair competition,” he said.

Editor: Nadine Freischlad

Write to Luna Lin at [email protected]