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Microsoft Suspends Juku Site Following Plagiarism Claims

Canadian startup says that some 80 percent of the Juku code 'appears to be stolen directly from Plurk.'

"Because questions have been raised about the code base comprising the service, MSN China will be suspending access to the Juku beta feature temporarily while we investigate the matter fully," Microsoft said in a statement issued Monday.

Juku, which helps users find friends through microblogging and online games, was launched last month. The Juku site was developed for Microsoft's MSN China joint venture by a third-party vendor, according to Microsoft.

Early yesterday Plurk, based in Canada, claimed that Juku's design and user interface "is by and large an EXACT copy of Plurk's innovative left-right timeline scrolling navigation system," and that some 80 percent of the Juku code "appears to be stolen directly from Plurk."

The company said it was first alerted to the similarities by "high-profile bloggers and Taiwanese users of our community."

"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."

Microsoft, in its statement, said it was the middle of the night in China when the questions first arose and it couldn't immediately address them. When the day began there, Microsoft said, its teams began "working hard to track down the information" about Juku.

"Here's what we know at this point. Our MSN China joint venture contracted with an independent vendor to create a feature called MSN Juku that allowed MSN users to find friends via microblogging and online games. This MSN Juku feature was made available to MSN China users in November and is still in beta," Microsoft said in its statement.

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