Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chinese Vendor Rips off Plurk for Microsoft

UPDATE: Commenters say Plurk is Canadian, not Taiwanese. Another Chinese firm builds [Canada]-China trust as it rips off Plurk's innovative website and sells the code to Microsoft. That's basically a metaphor for the Taiwan-China relationship. Huffpost notes:
In a blog post that initially got rumors swirling, the Taiwan microblogging site Plurk, a startup,alleged that it was "ripped off" by Microsoft, whose own microblogging site Juku looked "eerily similar" to Plurk's.

Microsoft suspended MSN Juku to investigate the plagiarism allegations, and subsequently released a statement announcing that the Chinese vendor Microsoft hired to create MSN Juku had indeed used stolen code to build the site.

The statement from Microsoft reads:

REDMOND, Wash. - Dec. 15, 2009 - On Monday, December 14, questions arose over a beta application called Juku developed by a Chinese vendor for our MSN China joint venture. We immediately worked with our MSN China joint venture to investigate the situation.

The vendor has now acknowledged that a portion of the code they provided was indeed copied. This was in clear violation of the vendor's contract with the MSN China joint venture, and equally inconsistent with Microsoft's policies respecting intellectual property.

........

In a blog post on their site, Plurk offered these details on what they believe took place:

Here's the short of what we think has happened:
* Microsoft China officially launched its own microblogging service, MSN Juku/Hompy/Mclub, some time in November, 2009.
* The service's design and UI is by and large an EXACT copy of Plurk's innovative left-right timeline scrolling navigation system. (see screen captures below)
* Some 80% of the client and product codebase appears to be stolen directly from Plurk! (see evidence below).
* Plurk was never approached nor collaborated in any capacity with MS on this service.
* As a young startup, we're stunned, shocked, and unsure what to do next and need your support and suggestions.
Plurk is quite popular in Taiwan; I'm on it but I don't use it. It's amazing that the Chinese vendor didn't think anyone would notice. D'oh! Just like my students who copy from Wikipedia....
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20 comments:

Craig Ferguson (@cfimages) said...

Nothing new. Microsoft stole most of their original DOS code that underlies Windows, so this comes as no surprise.

Thomas said...

How ironic! Microsoft complains so loudly about the difficulties of protecting its own intellectual property in China only to have "its own" product infiltrated by intellectual property stolen by the Chinese from someone else. That must rankle Mr. Gates just a tad.

Anonymous said...

Michael, Plurk is not Taiwanese. It's a Canadian company. It's very, very popular in TW and Southeast Asia, but it's not Taiwanese.

Craig is always up for speaking very loudly about something he knows nothing about. The very original DOS was licensed by Microsoft, not stolen. Later they bought the rights outright. Further versions were developed themselves and there were several deals for additional utilities, like compression. Windows isn't even based on DOS anymore. Bill Gates might have done a lot of unethical things to maintain his monopoly, but stealing code wasn't one of them.

Max said...

"It's amazing that the Chinese vendor didn't think anyone would notice. D'oh! Just like my students who copy from Wikipedia...."...
Why should they care if there is no consequence whatsoever. Regulatory compliance is merely a joke in China. Plurk should file multimillion dollar litigation lawsuit against MSFT and hold MSFT responsible for it.

Rhys said...

@Craig: Sorry, but that's just incorrect. Firstly, they didn't "steal" DOS, they bought it off a smaller company who determined that the deal was worth it.

DOS isn't even in Windows anymore anyway. Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, 95, 98, and ME were DOS derivatives, but all other Windows versions are based on the NT kernel, jointly developed at great expense by Microsoft and IBM.

The only case I can really think of regarding Microsoft really ripping someone off was when they licensed Spyglass Mosaic from Spyglass and agreed to pay them a cut of the profits... then rebranded it to Internet Explorer and gave it away free.

Anonymous said...

"Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, 95, 98, and ME were DOS derivatives, but all other Windows versions are based on the NT kernel, jointly developed at great expense by Microsoft and IBM."

Needless to say they (borrowed) heavily from the Macs that Steve Jobs let them borrow to create Apple software.

Thoth Harris said...

@Anonymous 1:32 P.M. That's correct. It's a Canadian company. And, while you're definitely onto something about Craig, the less that is said about him the better.

Adam said...

It seems that Plurk was started by a Canadian who is now living / based in Taiwan, so it is partly Taiwanese in that sense.

This may be the best thing to happen to Plurk, as they are getting major coverage on a lot of major blogs and newspapers. Many readers who didn't know about Plurk before now do!

Anonymous said...

Adam: Very interesting. It looks like both cofounders are in Taiwan, only one of whom speaks some Chinese (Malay-Canadian?). I wonder why they moved to Taiwan. Because of their users?

Thoth Harris said...

That's a really good point, Adam!

Adam said...

Re: I wonder why they moved to Taiwan. Because of their users?

Lower cost of living here in Taiwan and you can hire a work force for a lot less than in Canada. I'm also Canadian and I run my web businesses from Taiwan for the same reason.

Another reason is that rather than compete directly with Twitter in North America, they decided to go after the Asian market first, which seems to be working for them.

Craig Ferguson (@cfimages) said...

I phrased that badly. Anon 7:13pm said it better.

Anonymous said...

Good tip Adam.

The Plurks of Alvin and Amir, the two founders of Plurk are:

http://www.plurk.com/alvin
http://www.plurk.com/amix

General web design out here is pretty weak, but there is some web industry rumbling going on in Taipei these days; don't know where it's going (Silicon Valley East?). Are Alvin and Amir attempting to take part in that? Seems really interesting.

Anonymous said...

Adam, are you in contact with Alvin and Amir? What do you think are the chances of an international web industry cluster springing up in Taiwan?

BTW, they are getting slammed on Hacker News for saying they may pursue further legal action. They really need to get someone to copyedit their English even if their main focus is Asia at this point.

Anonymous said...

Craig, your original comment makes no sense if what you really meant was what Anon said. Microsoft stole Plurk's code and exact look. Nothing even close to that happened between Microsoft and Apple.

Craig Ferguson (@cfimages) said...

@Anon 12:33

Look at the development of Apple Lisa.

There was also a court ruling in the UK in 2006 or 2007 that touched on the situation.

Anyway, the next week is going to be phenomenally busy with work for me, so I probably won't be able to respond to anything.

Anonymous said...

Always ready to troll, huh Craig? Look at Xerox PARC. Apple is very far from being inventors of the GUI. You do the research since you are clearly in the wrong.

Adam said...

Re: Adam, are you in contact with Alvin and Amir? What do you think are the chances of an international web industry cluster springing up in Taiwan?

No, I'm not in contact with them (although they sound like fun guys to be in contact with!). I don't know if Taiwan will ever be a big player in the web industry (nor do they need to). The web by definition tends to be quite decentralized.

Taiwan has always been the hardware guys. India has always been the software guys. You would think there should be more partnerships between these two countries!

Michael Turton said...

ATTENTION: The poster here is not Craig Ferguson, but someone stealing his ID.

Sorry to all who were mislead.

Michael

Anonymous said...

ATTENTION: The poster here is not Craig Ferguson, but someone stealing his ID.

What's your evidence for that (besides any personal assertions by Craig otherwise)? What the hell would be the motivation for posting seriously on Microsoft on your blog here? Nothing was said here that was that serious.