Nintendo warns Webzen of copyright infringement

Tokyo heavyweight says Wiki characters resemble Wind Waker's; Webzen says the game is customizable.

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Webzen, the South Korean publisher of PC-based online games like MU Online and the forthcoming SUN: Soul of the Ultimate Nation, is planning to release a new online game, Wiki, this year. The trouble is, Nintendo execs said last week that some of Wiki's characters look uncomfortably like those from Nintendo's 2003 release, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

However, the Tokyo game giant isn't taking action yet--just making its concerns known. According to Australia-based news outlet Asia Pulse, Nintendo offered a statement through its South Korean distributor, Daiwon C.I., saying, "We will take action when we decide such action is needed."

In the statement, Nintendo took a firm stance in defense of its well-known game line. "Nintendo's intellectual property must be protected, and we can't stand idly by the plagiarism claim related to Webzen's new game."

However, officials at Webzen told Asia Pulse that it's too early to cry foul on Wiki's design, since it's still in the early development phase. In an interview with Korean newspaper JoonAng Daily, Webzen said that Wiki's hero can be customized with different clothes, features, and hairstyles. "The number of variables is in the tens of thousands," Webzen spokesperson Choi Hyun-woo said. He added that a screenshot from the game, unveiled at a recent event, was only a sample of the possibilities.

If Nintendo pursues legal action, it wouldn't be the first time a major corporation sued a South Korean online-game publisher for copyright infringement. Last November, Marvel filed suit against NCsoft, saying its massively multiplayer role-playing game City of Heroes allows players to design characters that closely resemble Marvel stars such as Wolverine and The Hulk.

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