Tag Archives | Plurk

Microsoft Does The Right Thing, Juku Beta Scrapped

Kudos to Microsoft on acting fast on the Juku-Plurk fiasco: the company said Tuesday afternoon it would be suspending the Juku beta indefinitely, and has assumed responsibility for what is now a definite case of intellectual propery theft. According to a statement, the third party developer behind Microsoft’s service has acknowledged that it had indeed stolen code from Plurk to build Juku. Ouch.

Microsoft stressed that its contracts with its vendors expressly indicate that work provided must not infringe on the work of others (a no brainer, don’t you think?). “We are a company that respects intellectual property and it was never our intent to have a site that was not respectful of the work that others in the industry have done,” it said.

Officials with Microsoft will reach out to Plurk to explain what happened as well as update the affected paryy on what Redmond plans to do to resolve the situation. It also is launching an inquiry into its own practices surrounding code offered by third-party vendors. So far we haven’t seen anything publicly on what Plurk’s future moves, but you have to think that this might just prevent this from going to court. My guess is we’ll be hearing from Plurk real soon. But as everyone’s saying, this publicity can do nothing but help the service, don’t you think?


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Microsoft Pulls The Plug (For Now) on Plurk Clone

We’ve gotten a response out of Microsoft on the Plurk debacle, and it looks like the company’s been caught with its pants down. As you may remember from our post earlier this afternoon, the Canadian microblogging service accused Microsoft of outright intellectual property theft, saying as much as 80% of the Juku microblogging service it had launched in China was based off of Plurk.

Microsoft has decided to take down Juku while it performs a full investigation of the incident. The company said that when Plurk first posted its accusations, it was the middle of the night in China which made it impossible for work to begin until Microsoft China employees reported back in for work, which they would have right around suppertime here on the East Coast of the US.

The similarities are certainly there, starting with the user interface. What’s even more surprising is the whole incident was allowed to happen in the first place by the biggest software company in the world. Now it must rush to prevent what certainly could become a public relations nightmare.

“Our MSN China joint venture contracted with an independent vendor to create a feature called MSN Juku that allowed MSN users to find friends via microblogging and online games,” Microsoft said in a statement. “This MSN Juku feature was made available to MSN China users in November and is still in beta.”

It does seem like a little bit of passing the buck, but still Redmond shares some culpability in not knowing its competitors well enough to have an eye out for possible issues. No matter how this ends, as Michael Arrington put it on TechCrunch, “this is the best thing to happen to Plurk, ever.”

You got that right.


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Did Microsoft China Steal Code?

Microsoft may soon find itself on the opposite end of an intellectual property dispute than it’s used to facing. Canada-based microblogging service Plurk is crying foul, saying Microsoft China has stolen it’s code. In a blog post on Monday, the company claims that as much as 80 percent of the code for Microsoft’s competing service Juku is actually code for Plurk.

They may be onto something too. A cursory comparison of Juku and Plurk even at face value seems to indicate some striking similarities. Take for example the user interface, shown below:

As you can see, the UI looks very similar. Plurk claims that this has caused the company some trouble: users have questioned the service wondering if the two companies had struck some type of partnership. Plurk says it isn’t bothered by clones, but Microsoft China has gone a bit too far.

“There will always be exceptional circumstances where we feel wholly wronged, both legally and more important, morally, and this one just happens to be one of those rare cases,” the company said. “That it is Microsoft doing the copying in broad daylight makes it even more incredulous.”

Plurk is exploring its options as we speak, but it certainly seems as if this is headed to some type of court standoff if Microsoft doesn’t explain itself awfully quick. It has no partnership at all with the company — and Plurk was quick to point out in its blog that it has no problem working with partners.

All we’re getting from Microsoft at this point is that “we’re looking into the matter.” Well Redmond better look quick — this is pretty darn blatant. It’s somewhat not surprising that an event like this is coming out of China, however. We all know the country’s history when it comes to electronic piracy. But to have it come out of Microsoft  certainly reflects on the management of the Chinese arm of the world’s biggest software company.

Updates to come as we find out more.


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