[photopress:IT_qq_buddy_list.gif,full,alignright]Chen Shoufu, the author of Coral QQ, a popular IM add-on, was arrested for infringing on Tencent’s intellectual property.
Tencent QQ, the dominant IM service in China, annoys some users by serving up ads and keeping contact locations secret. By installing Coral QQ, users can block QQ’s ads and, important this, see the IP address and geographical location of their contacts.
Chen (who goes by the online handle ‘Soff’), originally wrote Coral QQ as patched version of Tencent’s software. But the company complained as QQ is not open source. Chen stopped providing downloads of his patched version of QQ and promised not to alter Tencent code in the future.
Chen, a 28-year-old instructor at the Beijing Institute of Technology’s computer center, then hit on the idea of offering ad-blocking and IP-resolving in a non-invasive patch.
Last year, he was sued by Tencent for infringement. The judgment required Chen to pay RMB100,010 (US$12,500), but it reportedly was delayed two months because of behind-the-scenes disagreements over the value of the IP that was infringed.
Think not for the moment that Chen Shoufu is totally the white knight in all of this. Although he has apparently distanced himself from the operation he still maintains total control. And, which is a little difficult to swallow, Coral QQ helps users avoid Tencent advertising BUT has made commercial deals, and it now includes a variety of adware, malware, and spamware of its own. Not an easy situation to interpret.