Reframe It Accuses Google of Plagiarism – Claims Sidewiki is a Rip-Off

Reframe It Accuses Google of Plagiarism – Claims Sidewiki is a Rip-Off

You are probably aware of Google Sidewiki Google’s web annotation service, which allows users of Google Toolbar to leave comments on any website. Google wasn’t the first web annotation service, but by virtue of the popularity of the Google Toolbar, it almost instantly became the most popular one.

A web annotation startup called Reframe It is now claiming that Google Sidewiki is a blatant plagiarisation of their own web annotation tool. Reframe It alleges that, the similarities are too many and too close to be coincidental.

Reframe It and Google Sidewiki aren’t the only annotation tools in the market. Wikipedia lists about a dozen web annotation tools. However, what makes Reframe It CEO and co-founder Bobby Fishkin uncomfortable is that The interface, the layout, the look and feel, look extremely similar.

Google Watch has an in-depth side by side comparison of Reframe It and Google Sidewiki. The similarities are uncanny to say the least. Reframe It’s intellectual property patent application is currently pending. If accepted, Google could end up in some major trouble for intellectual property theft. Since, the patent hasn’t yet been accepted, Reframe It also has the opportunity to adjust their patent application and include additional aspects to cover Google’s alleged transgressions. Reframe It can also sue Google for copyright violations, in which case Google will have to prove that their source code is drastically different from Reframe It’s.

According to Bobby Fishkin, apart from the obvious similarities between the two products, there were other incidents which solidified his suspicion. More than a year ago, Reframe It advisory board member Terry Winograd met with a senior Google Executive and encouraged him/her to take a look at Reframe It. Impressed with what he/she saw, the executive promised to pass it along to the team. A few months later, at least half a dozen Google employees signed up with Reframe It. Not only that, two days before launching Sidewiki, Google tried to hire Reframe It co-founder and Lead Engineer Ben Taitelbaum.

Google it yet to issue a direct response to the allegations. Instead this is what they told eWeek:

“The variety of existing products in this space and the increasing number of sites that enable user generated content shows that there is growing demand for allowing users to contribute to the Web. We are very excited by users’ response to Sidewiki and will continue to use their feedback to iterate more on the product.”

It is not uncommon for developers to be inspired by competitor’s product. In fact this is what drives genuine innovation. However, the question that needs to be asked here is how much is too much? What do you think? Is Google Sidewiki a rip-off? If it is indeed a rip-off, is it serious enough to be considered a copyright violation and (potential) IP theft?

via eWeek and Read Write Web.

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Pallab De

Pallab De is a blogger from India who has a soft spot for anything techie. He loves trying out new software and spends most of his day breaking and fixing his PC. Pallab loves participating in the social web; he has been active in technology forums since he was a teenager and is an active user of both twitter (@indyan) and facebook .

  • Kwiu

    Well I test both and you can clearly see by yourself that Sidewiki is a more simple clone of Reframe it.

    When I started to test SideWiki there was something that was just not wright with it, maybe to simple, maybe with to much control on Google, im not sure but I could found an idea of how it could be useful. Then I tried Reframe it and wow, now I understand where the idea come from, ReFrame is the real thing with the real options and features. I hope Google doesnt get away with this, this is clearly a rip off of Reframe and its sad because new start up with Google ideas are just destroyed by thus giants that use all their power like Google, Chrome, and their search bar to distribute their product which will lead to the death of ReFrame it. I really hope someone in the US puts a stop to this, this is just killing the economy, Google should be investigate for monopoly.