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Tencent Gaming Unit Must Pay $8.5 Million in ‘Freemium’ Dispute

  • Supercell told to pay $8.5 million in royalties to Gree
  • Supercell lost Covid-based arguments to delay Texas trial

Photographer: Vesa Moilanen/AFP via Getty Images

Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s Supercell gaming unit was ordered to pay $8.5 million in royalties to Japan’s Gree Inc. in a patent trial over features used in popular online games.

Supercell games infringed four patents, a federal jury in Marshall, Texas, found Friday. The $8.5 million, which was less than Gree was seeking, covers past and future sales, the jury said. The jury also found that the infringement was willful, so District Court Judge Rodney Gilstrap could increase that amount by as much as three time the figure set by jurors.

The dispute is over features in “freemium” games, a portmanteau of the words “free” and “premium,” that are free to download but make money by letting users buy virtual items or upgrade during the game. Gree was one of the pioneers of the technique, also known as gacha.