Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Microsoft Corp.'s attempt to tap into the Chinese social networking market turned into a public relations nightmare this week after it became clear that the software giant's new microblogging site contains code that was largely copied from a Canadian firm.

Plurk, a small microblogging site that offers a service similar to Twitter but is aimed primarily at an Asian audience, accused MSN China's new service, Juku, of "blatant theft of code, design, and [user interface]elements." In a blog post on Monday, Plurk staff showed screenshots of the two services, which appeared almost identical. MSN China launched Juku in China last month, although Microsoft says the application is still in beta, meaning its development isn't complete. Plurk has been online since May, 2008, but was blocked by Chinese state firewalls earlier this year, staff members say.

It didn't take long for Microsoft to step in and shut down its service - only a few hours, in fact.

Story continues below advertisement

"That kind of took us off guard a little bit," Plurk spokesman Dave Thompson said yesterday in New Zealand. "We posted this [blog entry]24 hours ago and they shut it down within 12 hours. We feel there's merits to the claim and I think they kind of understood that."

Microsoft was quick to admit the plagiarism, but blamed it on a Chinese vendor developing the micro-blogging application for MSN China.

"When we hire an outside company to do development work, our practice is to include strong language in our contract that clearly states the company must provide work that does not infringe the intellectual property rights of others," the company said in a statement.

"We are obviously very disappointed, but we assume responsibility for this situation. We apologize to Plurk and we will be reaching out to them directly to explain what happened and the steps we have taken to resolve the situation."

Plurk was originally founded and registered in Canada. However the site quickly became more popular in Asia. Eventually, several of the company's co-founders moved to Taiwan, which is now Plurk's biggest market.

Plurk is still a relatively small player by global standards. The site has between four million and five million members, Mr. Thompson said. By comparison, Facebook boasts about 350 million users.

The Internet buzz generated by the Juku incident (it has been the top story on several technology websites this week) may prove, inadvertently, to be the biggest advertising campaign for the Plurk site.

Story continues below advertisement

"I think [the co-founders]are kind of happy with the response so far," Mr. Thompson said. "We'll just take it day by day."

Follow related topics

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies