A start-up says that a microblogging service recently launched by Microsoft in China "rips off" its user interface and also contains a huge percentage of similar code.
"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," Plurk said on its company blog.
A Microsoft representative in the U.S. said the company was looking into the matter. Microsoft launched the Twitter-like Juku service over the past couple of weeks in China, but told various media outlets, including PaidContent.org, that it had no current plans to introduce it in other markets.
Plurk said that as a young start-up, it was "shocked" and "stunned" and said the company isn't sure what to do next.
"So what next? We're not entirely sure but we are exploring our options," Plurk said on its blog, adding that the company was tipped off by bloggers and Taiwanese users of the Plurk service of the similarities between its service and Microsoft's Juku.
"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."
On its blog, Plurk posted screenshots of both its service and the Juku site.
Plurk also posted two examples of code similarities between its service and Microsoft's.
The similarities were so great, Plurk said, that many people thought Microsoft had struck a partnership with the startup.
"Let's clear the air around this," Plurk said. "While many reputable internet companies have forged solid partnerships with Plurk, valuing our innovation and market leadership in Asia, Microsoft was absolutely not one of them. We were never contacted by any party at (Microsoft) to collaborate on such a venture nor did we give any prior written or verbal permission to anyone on their side to take our code, take our CSS, and copy the essence and ethos of our service."