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Microsoft The Courts Windows

Chinese Court Rules Microsoft Violated IP Rights 237

Posted by kdawson
from the shut-down-the-pirated-versions-and-that-would-really-hurt dept.
angry tapir writes "A Beijing court has ruled that Microsoft violated a Chinese company's intellectual property rights in a case over fonts used in past Windows operating systems. The Beijing Number One Intermediate People's Court ordered Microsoft to stop selling versions of Windows that use the Chinese fonts, including Windows XP. Microsoft plans to appeal the case. Microsoft originally licensed Zhongyi's intellectual property more than a decade ago for use in the Chinese version of Windows 95, according to Zhongyi. Zhongyi argues that agreement applied only to Windows 95, but that Microsoft continued to use the intellectual property in eight versions of Windows from Windows 98 to Windows XP. Vista and Windows 7 are not involved."
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Chinese Court Rules Microsoft Violated IP Rights

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  • A bit late? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @06:59PM (#30136668) Homepage Journal

    Shouldn't Zhongyi have reacted a bit sooner?

  • convenient (Score:0, Insightful)

    by badran (973386) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @06:59PM (#30136674)

    How convenient to stop selling older version of Windows. Does it also stop support for those version in China?

    So who buys software in China???

  • by ifwm (687373) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:00PM (#30136678) Journal

    It fascinates me that China thinks they can simultaneously not give a shit about IP in every day practice, yet still think a ruling like this will have credibility.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:01PM (#30136692) Journal

    Yeah I had that same thought. The Chinese have as much standing to complain about IP violations as the United States has to lecture on fiscal responsibility.

  • Re:A bit late? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:03PM (#30136734) Journal

    You're assuming they knew. Just because the newer versions of windows have Chinese character support doesn't mean the company automatically knows its their font being used.

    The designers assumed Microsoft must have a license, and the rest of the company thought they were using someone elses font.

  • by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:06PM (#30136784) Journal

    If the case is legit and the rest of the world has IP agreements with them (pretty sure they do) then this should be upheld.

    The hypocrisy of China is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

  • Do unto others... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:12PM (#30136844) Homepage Journal

    In an ideal world, yes. Each case on its merits and all that but. But if a serial mugger chooses the wrong victim and gets kicked to death then so be it.

    Rough justice has a certain poetic appeal, don't you think?

  • Re:A bit late? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:13PM (#30136864)
    So how is it a big deal then? If the fonts are so indistinguishable should they even be copyrighted?
  • Re:A bit late? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:18PM (#30136926) Journal

    I would contend that most fonts are indistinguishable from at least a half dozen other fonts.

    The guys over in the mac lab would probably disagree.

    I can't distinguish between all the supposed shades of blue in a large box of crayons either (or at least not without a side by side comparison).

    That's what I was getting at. Fonts can be very similar and the suits who would know about the licensing likely wouldn't know one from another without a side by side comparison. The designers would know their font at a glance but likely wouldn't know the licensing terms.

  • by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:22PM (#30136976) Journal

    Do unto others is fine and dandy. Somehow I doubt ignoring IP recognition treaties is something any western nation wants done unto them.

  • 10+ years? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:22PM (#30136986)

    >Zhongyi argues that agreement applied only to Windows 95

    It took them over 10 years to notice their fonts were also being used in 98, 2000, xp, vista, and 7???

  • by ifwm (687373) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:25PM (#30137028) Journal

    The hypocrisy of China is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

    I think pointing out the arbitrary nature of law enforcement is ALWAYS relevant to any issue regarding the law.

    There's really no way to argue otherwise.

  • Re:A bit late? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:26PM (#30137044)

    You're assuming they knew. Just because the newer versions of windows have Chinese character support doesn't mean the company automatically knows its their font being used.

    The designers assumed Microsoft must have a license, and the rest of the company thought they were using someone elses font.

    I doubt they woke up Six months ago and said my God they are still using our font. Everyone waits until significant damages are accrued to make a for a juicy settlement. If they had brought it up back when 98 was launched it would have given Microsoft a chance to address the issue and seriously limit damages. By waiting until Microsoft stopped using the fonts they can sue for the entire run of OS releases. It's a troll case period and I normally side with patent and copyright holders. This isn't a buried bit of code it's a font that was used in their part of the world. There's no chance they weren't fully aware of it.

  • by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@pa l e gray.net> on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:27PM (#30137064) Homepage Journal
    I can't disagree with the premise of your argument. Companies should be held accountable for their actions.

    That said, I'd really like to see a bar graph with two values on it, one for the amount of IP theft perpetrated by US-based companies, and one for IP theft perpetrated by Chinese firms. I imagine in might look something like this [imageshack.us].
  • by Thinboy00 (1190815) <thinboy00@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:33PM (#30137112) Journal

    Do unto others is fine and dandy. Somehow I doubt ignoring IP recognition treaties is something any western nation wants done unto them.

    Unless I'm severely mistaken about what you're saying, it's already been done on to them.

  • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:34PM (#30137128) Homepage Journal

    I'm a fervent supporter of self-defense rights. But let's revisit the quote he was referring to. "But if a serial mugger chooses the wrong victim and gets kicked to death then so be it."

    I live in Colorado, where we have the "make my day" law. One of the strongest self-defense statutes anywhere, ever. (This is for context, I'm well aware that it doesn't apply to a mugger.)

    But I would fully expect to be prosecuted (and very possibly convicted) if I kicked a mugger to death!

    Now, this, of course, depends on the details of the incident. If it were a "one in a million shot", then, as the OP says, so be it. But I don't think that's the intent here.

    -Peter

  • Re:A bit late? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:40PM (#30137190) Journal

    "It's a troll case period"

    It may or may not have been a submarine case. I have already given an example as to exactly how they could have missed it. There are other scenerios.

    But it is not a troll case. Troll cases are brought by companies that do not produce anything and make their money off litigation. This is a company that produces graphics that is suing because another company improperly used their IP.

    Even if they did submarine it to let more damages accrue it still remains that they have legitimate IP, which Microsoft was aware of, and Microsoft used it without their permission.

  • by mike260 (224212) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:41PM (#30137208)

    The converse argument to that of OP would be:
    "It fascinates me that Microsoft thinks they can bug China about software theft while simultaneously stealing Chinese IP"

  • by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:44PM (#30137240) Journal

    "He kept getting up and coming after me!"

    Lacking witness testimony to the contrary, it'd be hard to prove that the "victim" (deceased ex-criminal) didn't bring his own unlamented death on himself. If the basic standard of self-defense is "you're entitled to defend yourself as long as the threat exists", you may not get to stop until the assailant isn't moving any more. And death by that kind of blunt-force trauma may not be instantaneous: one well-place kick to the upper abdomen could leave dead-boy with ruptured internal organs (spleen, etc.) and internal bleeding, and still able (and mad enough) to get up and come at you again.

    Now, a dead guy with 17 mortal stab wounds... that's a bit harder to finesse, self-defense-wise. Unless he's a zombie.

  • by aussersterne (212916) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @07:44PM (#30137242) Homepage

    will be paved with companies that don't think doing business in China is important.

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @09:05PM (#30138092)
    It could be that there are a lot of Chinese speaking people that don't live in China. Possibly. And they might use Windows. Statistically, they likely do. :)
  • by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @10:43PM (#30138798) Homepage Journal

    Yeah I had that same thought. The Chinese have as much standing to complain about IP violations as the United States has to lecture on fiscal responsibility.

    Wow, a blatant strawman like that gets +5 Insightful on Slashdot these days?

    The GP said he was surprised that China (a country that typically ignores IP) ruled against Microsoft's (alleged) IP violation. You respond by saying you are surprised the US is lecturing on fiscal responsibility. The problem is that nobody here is even discussing Chinese or US fiscal policies.

    You set up the fiscal strawman just so you could knock it down and look smart. The sad thing is that the mods bought it.

  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:17AM (#30140704)

    China is doing in a way what the US did about 200 or so years ago. (Most of) Europe had signed the Berne convention on copyrights; the US which was busy building up their own industry didn't.

    China is now building up their own industry - allowing them to look very closely to how it's done elsewhere helps a lot. That includes copying industrial designs and related infringements.

    This is though by far from the first copyright case in China. There are many going on - mostly between Chinese companies suing each other for copyright or trademark infringements. And you bet the Chinese care about IP violations if it includes their own IP.

    Sooner or later they will up their standards and come to international levels of enforcement. China has a patent office, and many Chinese companies are patenting their inventions. And those companies will start to demand enforcement.

  • by asdf7890 (1518587) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:34AM (#30141538)

    Which is why there is an IP case about Chinese fonts, but illegal copies of Windows 98 to Windows XP being sold on the streets of China for $1 a CD each. If Microsoft were a Chinese company, the Chinese government would crack down on the illegal copies, but since Microsoft is a US company, the Chinese government turns a blind eye on the illegal copies of Windows 98 to Windows XP.

    And western owned companies take a similar attitude to human rights. They won't have their people working in sweatshop conditions, as the public outcry would ruin them if legal action didn't first, but they are quite happy to deal with factories in countries further east that are run that way. Governments don't do enough about the issue because it isn't directly affecting their voters and the indirect affect on their economies and lifestyles (at least in the short-to-medium term, certainly on the scale of a political term) through cheaper products is largely positive.

    While China has no good case not to be called hypocritical on IP law enforcement and other issues, other nations have no such claim to even handed fairness in all issues either and the Chinese are likely to see (well, those who can see it, pervasive censorship will reduce the number that can) our calling their government hypocritical as, well, hypocritical....

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