solidoaksoftware.pngAs predicted, China's plan to install internet filtering software on PCs to protect consumers from internet porn has attracted a huge amount of attention in the west.

The software was first condemned for its Big Brother connotations, then branded as dangerous because of its security vulnerabilities.

Now it appears, the software may not even be Made in China but a ripoff of a western commercial product.

Solid Oak Software, a small Silicon Valley software house, claims that parts of its CyberSitter program have been used in the Chinese filtering software, called Green Dam-Youth Escort.

Similarities found include a list of CyberSitter serial numbers and an update that makes the software compatible with an old version of CyberSitter, the company said.

Researchers at a US university back up Solid Oak's claim and found similarities between the two programs, particularly in the blacklist of sites to block.

Solid Oak's president, Brian Milburn, plans to seek an injunction to stop US companies such as Dell and HP from shipping PCs with the Chinese software.

However, lawyers interviewed by the Wall Street Journal claim that the firm faces an uphill struggle to enforce its claim because the software will only be sold in China and so does not violate US copyright law. Solid Oak would thus have to engage lawyers in China to pursue the case under Chinese law.

Western companies much bigger than Solid Oak know to their cost that Chinese courts often have a generous interpretation of IPR that allows Chinese companies to continue selling “copycat” products that are wholly or partly derived from those of western rivals.

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