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California software company Cybersitter LLC, has sued the People’s Republic of China and seven computer manufacturers in U.S. Federal court for stealing 3,000 lines of its Internet filter software code and using it in last year’s Green Dam fiasco in China.

The suit, “Cybersitter v. the People’s Republic of China,” was filed in U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles). It also names Acer, Lenovo, Sony Corp., Toshiba, Asustek Computer Inc., Benq Corp. and Haier Group as defendants.

Last spring, The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the requirement that all computers connected to the Internet in the country run Green Dam Youth Escort filtering software to allegedly protect users from pornography and other objectionable content. However, bloggers familiar with China who read through the Green Dam black list found that it contained about 2,700 words related to pornography and about 6,500 “politically sensitive” words. (See our June 16 blog entry: “Green Dam = Spyware”)

The ministry had bought the rights to the Green Dam application for one year through a no-bid $6 million purchase from Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co. of Zhengzhou.

Cybersitter said last June that code from its software was used extensively in Green Dam-Youth Escort and sent cease-and-desist letters to the U.S. PC manufacturers who were expecting to install it for the Chinese market. Cybersitter is now suing China and those companies.

Greg Fayer, Cybersitter’s attorney said in a news release today: “This lawsuit aims to strike a blow against the all-too-common practices of foreign software manufacturers and distributors who believe that they can violate the intellectual property rights of small American companies with impunity without being brought to justice in U.S. courts. American innovation is the lifeblood of the software industry, and it is vital that the fruits of those labors be protected at home and abroad.”

Cybersitter news release here.

Bloomberg news story here: “China Faces U.S. Piracy Suit for Web-Filter Software “

Tom Kelchner