When I first read about this US-based litigation, I laughed and my cat looked at me quizzically. I definitely wasn’t going to post anything on a loser lawsuit.
Several days later, I get sucked in. Why? Because apparently there is no other China news in the entire freakin’ world except for this lawsuit. In other words, I see this story in every newspaper I read and every blog/site I look at.
Now that’s worth talking about.
Here are the basics:
A California software company has sued two Chinese technology firms, charging that they stole its computer code to make an Internet-monitoring program that China’s government sought to install on every computer in the country last year before backing down.
Cybersitter’s lawsuit also names as defendants seven Asian computer makers — including Sony, Lenovo and Acer — accusing them of willingly joining a Chinese government scheme to spread the software, known as Green Dam Youth Escort, throughout the country. The Chinese government was also named as a defendant.
[. . .]
Cybersitter’s suit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for California’s Central District, alleges that the pirated lines of code “include the heart of Cybersitter software: its proprietary content filters” that instruct a computer to block sites containing banned keywords. (New York Times)
OK, shall we count the craziness first? Sure, let’s do that.
1. Joining the Chinese government is silly and ineffective. Publicity stunt?
2. Joining PC makers, who would only have been following government orders if they had bundled the software onto their products, is ridiculous. Wouldn’t they have some sort of affirmative defense here? I don’t know what the point of this is.
3. Suing two Chinese companies in a U.S. Federal Court is rather bizarre on the face of it. Foreign court judgments are not enforceable in China. The only way this would make sense would be if the companies in question had sizeable offshore assets in the US that could be attached. Since the complaint asks for USD 2,25 billion — well, that ain’t gonna happen.
Looks to me like these two software companies are local, and therefore judgment-proof when it comes to this litigation. Given that they are the two principal alleged infringers, I therefore conclude that this litigation is complete bullshit.
You know, if the US company was smart, they would have sued in a China court, without naming the government as a defendant of course. Same crappy results, but it would no doubt have made some folks very uncomfortable. Moreover, at least they could go into their press conferences with a straight face, saying that they had the law on their side (seems like obvious copyright infringement) and that a court judgment would be (legally) enforceable here.
Would have been a hell of a lot cheaper publicity stunt as well.
Oh well. Regrets.
I’m left with the same puzzling questions. Why so much press coverage? For one, this story (Green Dam) was hot from the beginning, so any new development, stupid or otherwise, was bound to attract attention.
Additionally, the holidays just finished, and there might be a bit of a lag in actual news. Let’s face it, the big news around China this week has been the weather. Not the most stimulating journalism.
Finally, anything involving the Chinese government and IP infringement looks good on paper. Oh, yeah, and this includes web filtering. Sexy.
So I’m hoping for an exciting natural disaster somewhere in the world, maybe a famous old person dying, perhaps a stock market collapse or an outbreak of an extremely virulent strain of crotch rot — whatever it takes to get our collective attention away from ridiculous litigation.