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IPR Violation Expands into the Wireless Value-added Services Space
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mInfo(R) Inc., the leading Chinese mobile search provider, recently discovered that its popular Guanxi (TM) Mobile City Guide is being copied by a former business partner.  When people think of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violations in China, they usually think of music, movies, software or branded apparel. One Beijing wireless service provider is taking this practice to the wireless value-added services space. 


"mInfo's Guanxi Mobile City Guide is the most popular expat-focused mobile search service in China, and has been providing instant answers to SMS queries since 2002.  mInfo had acquired the service from Mailman Media Group earlier this year," said Alvin Wang Graylin, CEO, mInfo Inc. "Recently, we had discovered that a former business partner, Beijing Taiyu Co., where Guanxi's servers were stored, had started offering a similar service under a similar name and SMS short-code." 


"After investigating the service, we found that the 'new' Taiyu service delivered exactly the same answers to search queries as an older version of Guanxi and the user experience behaved exactly the same as well, except it required users to add a '2' in front of all their queries," said Kirk Jobsz, CEO, Mailman Media Group. "What made us even more suspicious of the issue was that even some unique queries, i.e. personal friends' names, came back with the customized messages that only Guanxi's database would have."


mInfo has delivered formal complaints to Taiyu to stop operating their 'new' service, but have not been able to get a satisfactory response.  In fact, Taiyu has even actively pushed out unsolicited SMS messages to our users saying they are a "better Guanxi."  Given this kind of blatant disregard for IPR and violation of our cooperation agreement, mInfo and Mailman China have no choice but to issue formal legal proceedings towards the Taiyu company.  We are confident that justice will prevail in this case, and it will be a great test of the maturity of the IP rights enforcement strength of the China legal system.


"We wanted to remind our users that Guanxi's true number is 95882929, all other numbers are false.  Please only use the real Guanxi search service, which will provide you the most relevant and up to date results," said Alvin Wang Graylin, CEO, mInfo Inc. "The real Guanxi service also provides the proper user experience our loyal users have grown to expect, which doesn't require entering any special commands or prefixes in the queries.  Please tell your friends the 'real' Guanxi number and don't settle for any imitations."


(China.org.cn August 13, 2007)


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