Core tips: 1. Wei Nian and Li Ziqi finally went from silent confrontation to open mutual tearing. Weinian took the lead in claiming that it has never interfered with Li Ziqi’s content creation, and has never controlled any of its related platform accounts, and expressed its willingness to continue to communicate. 2. Assistant Li Ziqi quickly retorted, saying that Wei Nian ignored the facts, turned black and white, and said bluntly: “It’s boring to talk, and you have to go to court.” 3. A legal person pointed out that this incident was due to the intellectual property rights of celebrities and related trademarks. And patents, the best solution is mediation. If there is a long-term stalemate, Li Ziqi’s IP will be affected, and the final result may be a lose-lose.
Produced “New Horizons” in-depth report group Phoenix Network Technology
Author | Jiang Jiao
Editor | Zhao Ze
After Li Ziqi and “capital” tore their faces, “capital” finally responded.
On the evening of November 1st, in response to the “Shareholding dispute between Wei Nian and Li Ziqi”, Wei Nian Company responded for the first time, stating that since the cooperation between the two parties, the company has never interfered with Li Ziqi’s content creation, and has never thought about it and never controlled it. Through any relevant platform account of Li Ziqi.
According to Wei Nian’s description, more than a year ago, the company proposed an equity plan and cooperation model with Li Jiajia (Li Ziqi), and signed an agreement on relevant share arrangements and cooperation costs with the consent of the shareholders. Communicating with other rights and interests matters, but no substantive progress has been made.
Wei Nian’s response was quickly refuted by Assistant Li Ziqi, saying that Wei Nian ignored the facts and turned black and white. Assistant Li Ziqi said, “I really don’t understand who has always been involved in the pace of public opinion in equity disputes? Who dares to take shares in a company that hasn’t truthfully disclosed the contract to investors and shareholders? It’s boring to fight, and you have to go to court.”
At present, the contradiction has intensified, and the two sides hold different opinions. Phoenix Network Technology asked Wei Nian and Li Ziqi Fang about the specific solution of this incident. As of the time of publication, no response has been received. This incident has now caused heated discussions on social networks. Many netizens are concerned about how to resolve the equity conflict between the two parties? Can “Li Ziqi” ultimately belong to Li Ziqi?
Wei Nian doesn’t want to break up this collaboration
Since Li Ziqi’s account stopped updating the video on July 14, there have been many rumors on the Internet, superimposing Li Ziqi’s recent two months on social platforms such as “Capital is really a good method” and “Reported to the police early in the morning”. It has triggered layers of suspicion from the outside world about the collapse of Li Ziqi and the capital behind it.
(Picture: On August 30, after Li Ziqi posted a report on the police station on the social platform, he then left a message in the comment area)
A week ago, Li Ziqi’s lawsuit confirmed that he had indeed had a dispute with Wei Nian, the MCN agency he belongs to. On October 26, Ziqi Culture formally sued Hangzhou Weinian and its legal representative Liu Tongming.
According to Tianyan Check data, Hangzhou Weinian and Li Jiajia (Li Ziqi) hold 51% and 49% of Ziqi Culture respectively. The company owns multiple brand trademarks related to “Li Ziqi”.
However, there is no Li Jiajia (Li Ziqi) in the list of Weinian shareholders. The major shareholder of Hangzhou Weinian is Liu Tongming, whose shareholding ratio is 20.4%. Because of this, the outside world believes that the most likely cause of a dispute between the two parties is a disagreement with the equity.
Some netizens even said: “As an MCN organization, Wei Nian’s income mainly comes from related products incubated by Li Ziqi’s IP, but Li Ziqi himself has no control over this.”
After Li Ziqi appealed, the equity dispute between him and Wei Nian was raged on the Internet. On November 1, the party involved, Wei Nian, finally responded, saying that the original intention of not responding before was to protect the IP and brand of “Li Ziqi”. This response also confirmed the rumors of equity disputes between the two parties.
Phoenixnet Technology noticed that this announcement sent several key messages:
The company has never thought about or controlled any related accounts of Li Ziqi;
The cooperation model between Wei Nian and Li Ziqi was established after in-depth communication between the two parties;
The specific cooperation method is as follows: Li Jiajia is responsible for content creation, and Wei Nian is responsible for planning, operation, capital investment, etc.;
The share dispute between the two parties appeared a year ago, and Wei Nian had communicated with Li Jiajia many times, and there was no substantial progress;
Wei Nian Company is willing to continue to communicate frankly and untie the knot.
(Picture: Wei Nian responds to Li Ziqi’s equity dispute)
In response, an investor who did not want to be named stated that from the content of the response, after receiving Li Ziqi’s lawsuit, Wei Nian also expressed the willingness to continue communication and negotiation, obviously not wanting to terminate the cooperation.
“As an MCN organization, Wei Nian obviously does not want to break up this cooperative transaction for profit considerations. The strong influence of Li Ziqi IP is currently the greatest value of Wei Nian. If Li Ziqi is gone, the value of the company will be greatly reduced. The previous high valuation will also be in vain.” The above-mentioned person said. After the latest round of financing, Wei Nian’s valuation has reached RMB 5 billion.
However, due to the equity dispute between Li Ziqi and Weinian, ByteDance has started the withdrawal process on October 16.
The contradiction between the two parties is temporarily difficult to resolve
Up to now, Li Ziqi’s video has been suspended for 110 days. After Wei Nian made the announcement, many netizens were concerned about when the contradiction between the two sides could be resolved. Can Li Ziqi continue to create?
Taikun Law (Chengdu) Lawyer Zhu Jieping, director of Sichuan Kunjue Law Firm, said in an interview with Phoenix.com that the best solution is mediation due to the intellectual property rights of celebrities, as well as related trademarks and patents.
“If there is a long-term stalemate, Li Ziqi’s IP will be affected, and the final result may be a lose-lose.” Zhu Jieping also mentioned that the occurrence of such incidents also shows that the Internet celebrity industry needs more complete regulations.
However, judging from Assistant Li Ziqi’s response, the possibility of a settlement out of court between the two parties is very small.
On October 22, CCTV released a video interview with Li Ziqi, which quickly rushed to the hot search. In an interview, Li Ziqi said that in recent years, he has devoted himself to content production because he wants to protect the “Li Ziqi IP” and does not want it to have too high commercial value.
Speaking of the next step of the plan, Li Ziqi said that there are three things she wants to do: one is about rural revitalization and common prosperity; the other is about inheriting and disseminating material cultural heritage; and the third is about the guidance of young people. She does not want young people to be Want to be an internet celebrity.
(Photo: Li Ziqi was interviewed by CCTV)
Facing the interview footage, Li Ziqi talked about her thoughts on the future of the IP “Li Ziqi”. Compared to making money, she wants to spread and endow cultural values. If this is her true thoughts, it is obviously not in line with the operation and development of the MCN organization.
The person in charge of an MCN organization said that the conflict of interests between Internet celebrities and MCN organizations is seeking legal settlement, which is a common phenomenon in the circle. However, the significance of the Li Ziqi incident is extraordinary. Due to Li Ziqi’s influence on cultural output, if the two parties finally end up with a split, it will undoubtedly have an impact on the industry.
“It’s very unfair to leave the outside world with the impression that MCN agencies bully Internet celebrities. Those who have done MCN know how difficult it is to create a successful Internet celebrity IP. Internet celebrities can be popular all over the Internet, and the Internet celebrities themselves are of course. It’s important, but the team behind it does have to make great efforts to become a top IP like’Li Ziqi’, and the management and operation team itself also requires effort and cost.”
The person in charge believes that in dealing with the relationship with Internet celebrities, the correct way for the MCN organization is to be honest, and then reasonably distribute the proportion of income, so as to reduce disputes.
However, he also said that this is very difficult because the MCN business itself is prone to disputes. “The big credit goes to the Internet celebrities. Failure to do so is the failure of the organization to operate. In terms of income, it is difficult to determine a distribution ratio that satisfies both parties. The final outcome is mostly dissolution.”
Who owns Li Ziqi’s IP?
Phoenix.com has noticed that in the current cooperation, Li Ziqi’s equity is actually not dominant. Sichuan Ziqi Culture, a subsidiary of Li Ziqi, is actually controlled by Liu Tongming. In addition, the actual operating company of Li Ziqi’s Tmall store with 6.4 million fans is also Hangzhou Weinian.
(Picture: Li Ziqi’s equity relationship with its subsidiaries)
Li Ziqi himself does not hold any shares in Hangzhou Weinian. In addition to Sichuan Ziqi Culture, the only companies in which Li Ziqi works or holds shares are Shanghai Chenxiangli Creative Planning Studio, which was founded in June 2020 and is a sole proprietorship with a registered capital of 100,000 yuan.
At the moment during Double Eleven, Taobao Li Ziqi flagship store is still actively participating in promotional activities. Among them, plum snail noodles are very popular. According to institutional data, in the first round of pre-sales as of October 25, 206,000 pieces of Li Ziqi snail noodles were sold in 7 bags, with a pre-sale value of 16.448 million yuan. The major shareholder behind the manufacturer of this brand of snail noodles is also Hangzhou Weinian.
According to Tianyan Check, the manufacturer of Liziqi snail noodles is Guangxi Xingliu Food Co., Ltd., which is 70% owned by Hangzhou Weinian and 30% by Hangzhou Chuangliu Food Co., Ltd. The actual controller is also Liu Tongming.
This means that although Wei Nian and Li Ziqi jointly created the “Li Ziqi” brand, the operating ownership of Li Ziqi’s brand IP belongs to Hangzhou Wei Nian.
In addition, important monetization accounts such as Li Ziqi’s Tmall flagship store and Li Ziqi’s YouTube account are also registered in the name of the company after signing with Li Ziqi. Strictly speaking, it is not directly related to Li Jiajia (Li Ziqi himself).
This fact is different from Wei Nian’s statement. In response, Wei Nian stated that he had never thought about or controlled any Li Ziqi’s related platform accounts.
Regarding the dispute between the two parties, some legal sources pointed out that the essence of the dispute is still the distribution of benefits. According to the marketing platform Nox influencer, Li Ziqi’s annual income on the platform is about 40 million yuan, in addition to the sales income of Li Ziqi’s IP products. According to statistics, the sales of Li Ziqi brand products in 2020 will reach 1.6 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 300%, of which the sales of snail noodles alone will reach 500 million yuan.
Some media previously reported that the commercial value of the “Li Ziqi” brand has reached several billion yuan.
“Li Ziqi, Wei Nian, and Liu Tongming had issues of equity and interest distribution before, and disputes over the ownership and use of Li Ziqi’s trademark. However, at this stage, we have not seen Ziqi Culture’s specific appeals against Wei Nian, and it is difficult to judge the winning rate.” The above legal person said.
At present, since the case has not disclosed more specific information, there are still many unknowns as to how the dispute between Li Ziqi and Wei Nian will develop.