A View from Erika Jonietz

Did Google Steal Source Code?

Social networking company Affinity Engines has filed a lawsuit alleging that Google engineer (and former Affinity employee) Orkut Buyukkokten stole code to create Google’s Orkut social networking site. Wired News broke the story. The suit also alleges that Buyukkokten promised…

  • July 1, 2004

Social networking company Affinity Engines has filed a lawsuit alleging that Google engineer (and former Affinity employee) Orkut Buyukkokten stole code to create Google’s Orkut social networking site. Wired News broke the story. The suit also alleges that Buyukkokten promised he would not develop a competing social networking service when he left to join Google.

Affinity Engines was one of the first players in the now-crowded social networking arena. Service like Friendster, Tribe, LinkedIn, and orkut attract millions of users, allowing them to easily network among friends and friends of friends.

The company claims that Google’s orkut.com site contains nearly identical text found in similar features in Affinity Engine’s social-networking products, as well as several identical software problems in each company’s service. Wired reports

“In its initial investigation, AEI (Affinity Engines) uncovered a total of nine unique software bugs … in AEI’s inCircle product that were also present in orkut.com,” according to the lawsuit. “The presence of these bugs in both products is highly indicative of a common source code…. orkut.com contains software and source code copied, developed or derived from AEI’s inCircle software or source code.”

The suit comes at a highly inopportune time, as Google prepares for an initial public offering of stock, expected to be one of the biggest ever. Google also faces a patent-infringement suit from Overture on methods of auctioning placement in search-engine results.

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