Tencent's headquarters in Shenzhen. Photo: Asia Times

Two internet companies were fined on Thursday in a civil case in the Hangzhou Internet Court in the capital of China’s Zhejiang province after they were found guilty of defamation and violating copyright by using identical designs of Tencent’s WeChat.

On August 8, both Hangzhou Kebei Technology Co, Ltd and Hangzhou Haiyi Network Technology Co, Ltd were found to have infringed Tencent’s copyright, the Paper reported.

According to the verdict, Hangzhou Kebei Technology Co, Ltd and Hangzhou Haiyi Network Technology Co, Ltd were joint ventures offering small and speedy money lending services via WeChat’s official accounts.

Since the second half of 2017, Kebei had 21 public WeChat official accounts, eight of which were certified using a falsified moneylender license. People would be charged fees for credit reviews while taking out the so-called fee-waive loans.

In order to pose as legitimate entities, both companies would refer applicants to a complaint page which was easily mistaken as the complaints channel of Tencent’s WeChat. The page set-up was almost identical to the official Tencent page, which even promised speedy replies but never delivered.

The court ruled that both companies had to stop their illegal business on the social media platform at once and make a public announcement admitting their guilt and to pay 650,000 yuan in compensation to Tencent for any possible economic losses.

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