TikTok Faces Copyright Infringement Lawsuit For Allegedly Stealing Proprietary Code

A Beijing-based network technology company has filed a lawsuit against ByteDance and their TikTok app 📱 on copyright infringement claims. 

Meishe Technology filed the lawsuit in the Texas federal court. According to the complaint, the company was established in 2014 and deals in deep learning, intelligent processing, and television. It also deals in various industries that work with apps and smart technology. 

The company accuses ByteDance of computer software copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation relating to the Chinese version of TikTok (Douyin app). Meishe is seeking a public apology and $351 million 💰 for damages and expenses. Here’s what we know about the lawsuit. 

What is the TikTok Lawsuit About?

According to the lawsuit, version 3.0 and later of the Douyin app that was released in November 2018 copied video and audio editing and processing software code from Meishe’s copyrighted beauty copyright software. 

Meishe reportedly registered 18 software copyrights with the Copyright Protection Center of China (CPCC). The oldest of these copyrights dates back to September 2014, and the last three are dated June 5th, 2020. 

It claims that six apps from ByteDance contain traces of code plagiarism. Many have the same name, function, and even misspelled code originating from Meishe’s source code.

In October 1992, China 🇨🇳 joined the Berne Convention and the international copyright agreement. Under the agreement, foreign claimants can file a lawsuit in a United States District Court even without a copyright registration.

Meishe is seeking a public apology from ByteDance and $351 million to compensate for damages and expenses. 

Does Meishe Have a Case?

According to Meishe, the TikTok app contains their proprietary data, trade secrets, and replicated software code. The platform allegedly breached copyright law when it copied, displayed, and profited from Meishe’s code when users downloaded and used the TikTok app. 

Meishe explains that ByteDance and TikTok are not authorized to use any of the company’s proprietary code. ByteDance purportedly purposefully erased or changed Meishe’s copyright management information 📇 from the software it replicated and distributed. Meishe says that it was informed about the violations through many partners, but it’s worth noting that the Chinese government is currently conducting a campaign against leading tech companies regarding antitrust.

The lawsuit doesn’t explain the exact purpose of the software copyrights or the methods by which TikTok and ByteDance allegedly violated them. However, Meishe announced that the intentionally plagiarized code relates to audio and video editing processing, which affects several ByteDance apps other than TikTok. 

Meishe is now requesting payment for damages, a judgment initially and permanently urging the defendants from violating copyrights, attorney fees, and more.

TikTok’s Many Legal Troubles

Tiktok has faced many lawsuits as of recently. It is currently facing a $1 billion lawsuit for allegedly collecting data from its child users. The suit was filed on behalf of millions of children 👶 in the UK and EU who have purportedly used the app. It alleges that the app takes personal information such as phone numbers, videos, location, and biometrics without notification or consent. TikTok claims that the lawsuit lacks merit and intends to extensively defend itself in court. Privacy and safety are its top priority, and it has policies in place to protect all users.

TikTok also recently agreed to settle dozens of lawsuits that claim the app collected data from other users apart from children. The lawsuits claim that the data was harvested and shared with third parties, some of them situated in China. The settlements represented 89 million users of the app from the United States, whose data was allegedly tracked and sold to advertisers in violation of state and federal law. The company disagreed with the accusations but agreed to settle the lawsuits. The legal battle lasted for over a year and resulted in TikTok paying $92 million 💵 in damages.

Lawsuits Take Time

The lawsuit filed by Meishe against ByteDance is yet to see a result. Their claims of copyright violations do seem to have some credit. Their lawsuit doesn’t exactly explain the purpose of the copyright software. The lack of clarity may be a factor in their case. 

TikTok is a popular app that is used worldwide and has faced more than one instance of legal trouble. Time will tell as to how this case plays out. In the instance that you suspect your personal information has been stolen from social media, you should speak with an attorney immediately. A social media attorney can assess your situation and provide the necessary assistance.