Microsoft Corp has released a statement regarding information that has been circulating on the Internet about its new Juku feature for MSN China.
The accusation came from Plurk, a micro-blogging utility that posted in their company blog "Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but blatant theft of code, design, and UI elements is just not cool, especially when the infringing party is the biggest software company in the world. Yes, we’re talking about Microsoft."
"We were first tipped off by high profile bloggers and Taiwanese users of our community that Microsoft had just launched a new Chinese microblogging service that looked eerily similar to Plurk. Needless to say we were absolutely shocked and outraged when we first saw with our own eyes the cosmetic similarities Microsoft’s new offering had with Plurk. From the filter tabs, emoticons, qualifier/verb placement, Karma scoring system, media support, new user walkthroughs to pretty much everything else that gives Plurk its trademark appeal, Microsoft China’s offering ripped off our service."
The similarities go on - including code behind the scenes.
Microsoft says "At Microsoft, we take intellectual property very seriously. We make our IP available for others to license, and we license other people’s intellectual property as appropriate when we use it in our products. Earlier today, questions arose over a feature developed by a third-party vendor for our MSN China joint venture. We are working with our MSN China joint venture to investigate the situation."
"Unfortunately, when these questions first arose, it was the middle of the night in China. Now that the day has begun in China, our teams are working hard to track down the information. "
What is known at this point is that MSN China contracted with an independent vendor to create a feature called MSN Juku that allowed MSN users to find friends via microblogging and online games. This MSN Juku feature was made available to MSN China users in November and is still in beta.
Because questions have been raised about the code base comprising the service, MSN China will be suspending access to the Juku beta feature temporarily while we investigate the matter fully.