Liu Yong, an online game player in Changsha, is planning to sue Shanda (SNDA) because the latter's "Secret Treasure" software failed to protect the player from online theft.

Called "Mi Bao" in Chinese, the "Secret Treasure" software is used by gamers to login to different game sites.

Police in Sichuan Province have refused to investigate the matter because they say Chinese law does not cover loss of virtual assets. However local media report that analysts say that this is a test case because other items, including money and property deeds, can also be lost online and there should be no differentiation among these types of goods.

Liu says he spent CNY98 on the "Mi Bao" software, which the manufacturer claims is able to produce a dynamic password every minute so that a user's virtual property will be better protected when used in combination with a static password. Liu says he computed his loss at around CNY6000.

With no police investigation, it will be difficult for Liu to have the case heard before a court.

In the last few years, other gamers have sued companies for loss of virtual assets. In October 2004 a player sued Kingsoft in Beijing for a public apology and CNY91 because the player lost online virtual assets. The case did go to trial, with the court ruling in Kingsoft's favor.

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