Thu, Mar 21, 2002 - Page 17 News List

Internet portal accused of plagiarism

COPY CATS PC Home Online says Yahoo-Kimo copied information on digital cameras from its Web site, but the nation's top-ranked portal says it isn't responsible

By Annabel Lue  /  STAFF REPORTER

For the second time in six months Internet portal Yahoo-Kimo (雅虎奇摩) has been accused of plagiarizing the online content of a local Internet portal.

On Tuesday, PC Home Online (網路家庭) filed a lawsuit in the Taipei District Court accusing Yahoo-Kimo of violating fair trade and copyright laws.

"We found the majority of articles published in our `digital camera' section in early January were almost identical in content, wording and phrasing to those used by Yahoo-Kimo," said Vicky Tseng (曾薰儀), public relations manager at PC Home Online.

Tseng said the practice violates market fairness and infringes upon the company's intellectual property rights.

"We want Yahoo-Kimo to run an apology in the print media and compensate us at least NT$500,000 for our losses," she said.

Yahoo-Kimo -- which didn't deny the charges -- instead attempted to shift blame.

"These questionable articles were not produced by Yahoo-Kimo but by one of our content suppliers," said Charlene Hung (洪小玲), marketing director at Yahoo-Kimo.

That supplier -- Tomorrow World (明日世界電腦) -- has admitted fault and will take full responsibility, Hung said.

"We don't understand why PC Home insists that Yahoo-Kimo should make a public apology," Hung said.

Hung also warned PC Home against using the incident to harm Yahoo-Kimo's brand image.

This isn't the first time Yahoo-Kimo has been accused of plagiarism by a domestic portal operator.

In October, Yahoo-Kimo was fined NT$300,000 after a court ruling found the company guilty of copying online articles from Internet portal Yam.com (蕃薯藤).

In an early February exchange between the two, Yahoo-Kimo took aim at PC Home with a complaint to the Fair Trade Commission, saying "PC Home in its marketing activities has directly criticized us." According to Hung, PC Home criticized Yahoo-Kimo at an event asking Internet users to compare search engine functions between the two.

Cheng Yu (鄭優), vice chairman of the Fair Trade Commission, said PC Home may have violated fair trade laws but the commission won't reach a verdict before conducting its investigation further.

Meanwhile, one Internet market watcher said the disputes illustrate that competition in the Web industry is getting tough.

"On the one hand, companies have to conduct various marketing campaigns to attract users, on the other hand they have to defend their turf," said Stephanie Chu (朱怡靜), research manager at Internet research company NetValue Ltd Taiwan.

With the number of portal visitors closely tied to a portal's advertising appeal -- and therefore its bottom-line -- stealing users from the competition is very important.

According to NetValue, in February Yahoo-Kimo ranked as the nation's number one portal with 5,080,000 online visitors, followed by PC Home's 3,417,000 visitors and Yam.com's 2,481,000 visitors.

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