Microsoft Shuts Chinese Microblogging Site for Copying Plurk

Software giant Microsoft has shut down a Chinese-language microblogging service dubbed Juku following accusations from Canadian microblogging service Plurk that Juku not only copied Plurk’s look-and-feel and interface, but outright stole Plurk’s code to create a copycat service.

“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,” wrote Plurk’s Asia Pacific press contact Dave Thompson in Plurk’s company blog. Plurk not only posted screenshots of how Juku’s service is the spitting image of Plurk, but offered up selected JavaScript code samples that show an almost one-for-one correspondence with Plurk’s code…over with just the word “plurk” changed to “wall.” And Plurk claims to have found hundreds of similar examples on Juku.

Juku v Plurk Design Theft

Microsoft launched the Juku service back in November to little fanfare; Plurk was apparently tipped off by Taiwanese bloggers, who noticed the similarity to Plurk. Although Plurk isn’t hugely popular in North America, Plurk claims to be ten times bigger than Twitter in Taiwan alone with a growing user base in East Asia. Perhaps Plurk’s signature feature is a horizontally-scrolling timeline showing users’s activity and that of their friends and fans.

In a statement, Microsoft claims MSN China contracted with an independent vendor to create the Juku service, and has suspended access while it investigates Plurks’ accusations. “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.”

Plurk claims it has never been contacted by Microsoft in any way about licensing technology or collaborating on a service.