Shenzhen Weiyuanma Software Development Co., Ltd. v. Tencent Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. and Shenzhen Tencent Computer System Co., Ltd. Case of Dispute over Abuse of Market Dominance
Nowadays, platforms on the Internet have played a critical role in the digital economy. The number of anti-monopoly claims brought against platforms recorded a sharp increase, and the norms and rules govern actions related to the abuse of market dominance should be further refined in such field. This case clarified the criteria for the delineation of the “relevant product market” for comprehensive Internet platforms. For comprehensive Internet platforms that provide various types of services, to delineate “relevant product market”, it is necessary to fully consider the products or services to which the abusive activities are specifically directed, to distinguish “relevant product market” for basic services from that for the value-added services, and to adopt the demand substitution analysis method according to the nature and characteristics of the products or services.
Since October 2015, Shenzhen Weiyuanma Software Development Co., Ltd. ("Weiyuanma") has registered twenty-six WeChat official accounts such as “Data Wizard Distribution Platform” on the WeChat platform operated by Tencent Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd and Shenzhen Tencent Computer System Co., Ltd. ("Tencent"). After that, Tencent banned the official accounts operated by Weiyuanma because the number of plug-in software promoted by the official accounts involved in this case obviously exceeded the scope of functions allowed by WeChat and violated WeChat’s service agreement, operation specifications and other regulations. Therefore, Weiyuanma brought a lawsuit to a court, requesting the court to order Tencent to stop abusing its market dominance and proposing nine prayers for relief, including unbanning its registered official accounts and compensating for its losses.
The court held in this case that, the plaintiff Weiyuanma is not a general user of the WeChat instant messaging and social networking services, but a commercial entity who markets and promotes software products in the form of self-media on the platform. It has the demand of online promotion and publicity. Therefore, the “relevant product market” in this case should be the online promotion and publicity service market of the Internet platform. The plaintiff Weiyuanma had a wrong understanding of the "relevant product market" and failed to provide evidence to prove that the defendant Tencent had any activities of abusing its market dominance in the WeChat instant messaging and social networking services. As the operator of the WeChat platform, the defendant Tencent's necessary management of the plaintiff Weiyuanma’s behavior which violated the service agreement and operation specifications concluded and agreed by both parties in advance is proper and does not constitute an abuse of its market dominance. On August 23, 2018, Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court ruled against plaintiff. After the first instance judgment was pronounced and served, neither the plaintiff nor the defendant filed an appeal, and the judgment has become effective.