Last week, a video surfaced online of a Chinese theme park showing off their new game: a real life Angry Birds where players can use a giant slingshot to throw stuffed birds at targets. Of course, it’s completely illegal and Rovio, the game company responsible for the insanely popular mobile game, had nothing to do with it.
But there’s a happy ending to this story, because they’re now reporting that Rovio could be partnering with theme park.
[It] fits into Rovio’s strategy to not only expand the presence of its Angry Birds game in China, but also sell more merchandise around the game.
The company has high hopes for the Chinese market, and wants its Angry Birds game to reach 100 million downloads in the country by the end of this year. To this end, it is working to create Chinese versions of Angry Birds, which the company plans to release this month.
On top of that, they recently released a Moon Festival update for Angry Birds to help celebrate the Chinese holiday with rabbits, pagodas and a full harvest moon.
It looks like things could be working out between Rovio and the theme park, but this incident is one of the many where China has outright stolen intellectual property for profit. There were the 22 fake Apple stores, there was the Vii console that looked just like the Nintendo Wii, the totally unauthorized World of Warcraft theme park, and even a fake Ikea! (Question: do they also offer $3 meatballs and lingonberry juice?) Is there anything that China hasn’t illegally copied from others?
Granted, all of these examples could just be the news targeting outrageous stories about China. But do you think there’s a connection between culture and blatant copyright infringement? Is this related to an idea of anti-individualism?
Ernie brought up an interesting point that this could be related to the lack of innovation, which Tim wrote about back in 2009. In the article, Can Asians Innovate In Business?, he writes about Randy Pollock’s experience of working with Chinese MBA students who each copied his idea for an assignment. He says Chinese people are “so ingrained with the idea of conforming and being respectful” that it’s hard to be creative and original.
I can see how the opposition to innovation can translate into this current trend of directly copying other products, ideas and business plans. Perhaps these people in China don’t see themselves as stealing trademarks but adopting an idea for their own use. Or maybe they’re just looking to make a quick buck, knowing they can get away with it. Protection of intellectual property does exist there, so why do these copyright infringements keep happening? And why is everyone okay with it?
I’m obviously the farthest thing from being an expert about China so I’d love to hear how our readers feel about this issue. Why do you think copyright violations are so prominent in China?