China Says Microsoft Violates IP With Windows, Bars Sales

from the well,-look-at-that dept

For years, Microsoft has been among the loudest complainers concerning "piracy" in China, so it's a bit of a surprise to see things switched around a bit. Mesanna was the first of a few to alert us that a Chinese court has found Microsoft guilty of violating the intellectual property of a local firm, Zhongyi Electronics, and demanded that the company cease selling Windows XP throughout China. The issue is the Chinese character fonts. According to Zhongyi, Microsoft licensed them for Windows 95, but not other versions. Microsoft, of course, insists that it is not infringing, and says it will appeal the ruling.

Still, with this ruling, as well as the recent attack on Google for violating copyright in China, it makes you wonder if China is doing this in an attempt to show American firms what might happen if they actually get what they "want" in terms of stronger copyright enforcement in China.
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Filed Under: china, ip. copyright, software, windows
Companies: microsoft, zhongyi


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  1. identicon
    Yeah right, 18 Nov 2009 @ 2:37pm

    Damn lazy journo's

    Is it really too much to ask that whoever writes a story on this looks up more detail on the case. Like, check a few Chinese sources instead of repeating the same idiotic press release?

    According to a machine translation of http://tech.sina.com.cn/it/2009-11-17/08083598409.shtml the story is slightly more complex than meets the eye.

    In 1994 Microsoft signed a deal with the Chinese government about Chinese language support in Win95. The year after, in 1995, Zong Yi licensed fonts in a deal worth $ 1 million. In 2001 there was licensing deal for extended and reshaped fonts, worth $ 13 million.

    The case revolves round the 1994 deal and the phrase in the contract "for the Chinese version of Windows 95 or any other Microsoft product". The court sided with Zong Yi who submitted this meant Win 95 and Microsoft products such as Word, Excel etc., not future versions of the operating system.

    Microsofts position is that 'or any other' also includes later versions of the operating system. They paid for the 2001 license agreement because the 2001 version of the font had improved. They also questioned why Zong Yi continued to work with them and signed the 2001 agreement.

    In its motivation for the judgement, the court agreed that the conjunction 'or' was used, but that the context of the time was Win 95 and other Microsoft software such as Office. If Microsoft had wanted to license the fonts for any Microsoft product, why did the contract include the reference to Win 95 anyway, instead of just saying 'any Microsoft product'?

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