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Back Miscellaneous 2008 Chinese Firm Sets Legal Dragons On Microsoft

Chinese Firm Sets Legal Dragons On Microsoft

Zhongyi Electronic sues Microsoft, claims breach of intellectual property rights…

“A small Beijing software firm is taking Microsoft to court, alleging that it has not been keeping its end of a bargain to license technology for converting the Roman alphabet into Chinese characters…”

Beijing -- A small Chinese high-tech company “Zhongyi Electronic Ltd.,” which is a major Chinese font and input method provider, is suing U.S.-based Microsoft Corp., alleging that the software giant has stolen its creation that allows Internet users to type Chinese characters, but Microsoft countered the claim on Friday.

Zhongyi Electronic Ltd., a 100-employee firm, alleged that Microsoft has used its inputting technology and fonts in Windows operating systems without commercial agreement for a decade, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The lawsuit puts Microsoft in unfamiliar position of defending its intellectual property practices in China after years of fighting piracy of its software there.

“The Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court has accepted the case but has not yet set a date for the start of proceedings.”

The case brought by the Beijing-based company involves Microsoft’s use of “Zhengma,” a Chinese input method editor (IME), a system that allows Internet users to type Chinese using the Roman alphabet, which is then translated into Chinese characters using Western keyboards, according to an official Xinhua News Agency report Friday.

Zhongyi Electronic says “Microsoft has not paid us for 10 years, since they paid for using Zhengma in Windows 95 in 1998,” the English-language Xinhua report cited Lan Dekang, general manager of Zhongyi, as saying.

“This transliteration software is the core product of Zhongyi.”

Zhongyi has not yet provided a litigation target, as the company said it does not know how many sets of Windows operating systems are in use.

“Lan said Microsoft has not signed contracts for the commercial use of the company’s fonts and the input method editor in its Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating systems.”

“Microsoft denies the charge.”

Microsoft said in a statement that it had the right to use Zhongyi’s product and fonts after the two parties entered into agreements under the supervision of Chinese government agencies.

“We entered into these agreements under the supervision and guidance of the Chinese government agencies,” it said in a statement e-mailed to Dow Jones Newswires.

“Microsoft respects intellectual property rights. We use third party IPs only when we have a legitimate right to do so,” it said.

“"Microsoft has fully performed its obligations including paying Zhongyi the license fees in accordance with the license agreements,” the statement said.

The Beijing-based company has brought the case to the city’s No.1 Intermediate People’s Court, which started proceedings on the case Tuesday, according to materials dated Wednesday posted on Zhongyi’s Web site.

“A defeat for Microsoft would be ironic - Peking style - given it expends so much effort in China defending its own intellectual property.”