Facebook likely won’t get into China any time soon, but its presence is still being felt in the Middle Kingdom. This week, we have seen the Giant of Hacker Way be accused of copying a Chinese company, and we have also seen it blatantly copied by a Chinese company. Such are the joys of the Sino Internet.
The China Youth Daily today reported that location-based social network L99.com has announced plans to sue Facebook because its Timeline allegedly infringes L99’s intellectual property. The Chinese LBS claims to have launched a Timeline feature on February 9, 2008. Its “timeline” connected a history of user activity with the site’s pages and functions, according to a translation by Marbridge Consulting. Facebook launched its Timeline in 2011.
Xiong Wanli, CEO of L99, has said that he has video evidence that proves Mark Zuckerberg attended a lecture Xiong gave at Stanford in which he discussed L99’s timeline. He also claimed that several US law firms have been in touch offering to represent his company.
There is little chance that Xiong’s case will go anywhere, if it actually happens, but it is amusing, at least, to see a Chinese company getting indignant about a supposed breach of intellectual property, especially when it comes to Internet companies. For instance, Ren Ren (formerly Xiaonei), one of the country’s leading social networks, started life as a pixel-for-pixel clone of Facebook.
It’s more likely that this is a publicity stunt by Xiong. Facebook declined to comment for this story.
Meanwhile, you needn’t look far for an example of Facebook being on the receiving end of an IP breach at the hands of a Chinese company – and this one is a lot larger than L99. Sina Weibo’s upcoming redesign (see pic above) will look a hell of a lot like Facebook’s Timeline, according to TechInAsia. The new design will feature a large banner image running the width of the page, with a smaller inset profile picture on the banner’s lower left-hand corner.
Sina Weibo, the closest thing China has to Twitter, continues to grow in strength. Sina’s second-quarter report reveals that it has reached 368 million users and 36.5 million daily active users, according to TechNode. The microblogging platform also accounted for about 10 percent of Sina’s total ad revenues.
TechNode reported that Sina Weibo will launch an AdWords-like ad system in the fourth quarter, with a payment system, credit system, and data mining system due at around the same time. As Sina Weibo evolves, those comparisons to Twitter become ever less useful. Perhaps the latter could get into this copying racket, too.
[Screenshot via TechInAsia]