Global Dispatches

An international IT news digest

China Pledges to Help Fight Software Piracy

WASHINGTON -- During meetings with U.S. trade representatives here last week, Chinese government officials committed to increasing protections for intellectual property in their country.

China will conduct seven special enforcement operations against intellectual property pirates this year, Vice Premier Wu Yi said at a press conference after talks between members of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. The Chinese government will open infringement-reporting centers in 50 cities, she said.

In addition, Wu said that China will accelerate the transfer of piracy cases from administrative to criminal enforcement bodies. That would address complaints by U.S. software vendors that China doesn't adequately enforce its intellectual property laws.

The talks were held a day after the Chinese government announced that all computers sold in the country must now include a preloaded, licensed operating system.

The Washington-based Business Software Alliance commended the Chinese government's move to mandate preloaded software.

Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC estimates that 90% of the software used in China during 2004 was unlicensed.

-- Grant Gross, IDG News Service

Two Chinese Vendors Sign Windows Deals

LOS ANGELES -- In advance of the Chinese government's mandate regarding the use of licensed operating systems, two computer makers in China promised to distribute only licensed versions of Windows under new agreements with Microsoft Corp.

At a ceremony here on April 7, Microsoft signed deals with Beijing-based Tsinghua Tongfang Co. and Huizhou-based TCL Corp. Wu Yi, the Chinese vice premier, attended the ceremony on her way to Washington for the economic and trade talks.

John Litten, communications manager in Microsoft's reseller division, said the Chinese manufacturers also agreed to help educate end users about the benefits of using licensed software, including the availability of vendor-provided support.

Under its deal, Tsinghua Tongfang has agreed to buy $120 million worth of Windows licenses over three years, according to a statement from Chairman Rong Yong Lin. TCL has agreed to purchase $60 million worth of licenses over the same period, said Yang Wei-qiang, a group vice president at that company.

Microsoft signed a similar deal last November with Lenovo Group Ltd.

-- Ben Ames, Sumner Lemon and Nancy Weil, IDG News Service

Taiwan President Blasts Google, Yahoo on China

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- In a speech commemorating a local human rights activist, Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian accused Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc. of compromising free speech in China to boost their corporate profits.

Chen called on the Chinese government and companies such as Yahoo and Google "to respect democracy and freedom, because it is the correct way to ensure continuous future development." Taiwan's president used an annual ceremony for activist Cheng Nan-jung as a platform for his contention that countries should not compromise free speech or freedom of the press.

Neither Google nor Yahoo responded to requests for comment.

In January, Google launched a censored version of its search engine in China, while Yahoo has faced criticism for providing Chinese police with e-mail messages that helped put a journalist in jail for 10 years.

-- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

Australian State Signs Health Care IT Pacts

MELBOURNE, Australia -- The Department of Human Services in the Australian state of Victoria has awarded health care software vendor Cerner Corp. a contract to implement new clinical applications for all of the state's public-sector health providers.

The contract with North Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner is part of the agency's HealthSmart program, a four-year initiative valued at $323 million Australian ($236 million U.S.).

HealthSmart contracts have also been awarded to Trak-Health Pty. in Sydney, Australia, for a client management system; iSoft Group PLC in Manchester, England, for an integrated patient records system; and Frontier Software Pty. in Melbourne for a human resources system.

In addition, Oracle Corp. won a contract to provide financial and supply management software to the Victoria Department of Human Services.

All of Victoria's HealthSmart technology is expected to be in place by next year.

-- Michael Crawford, Computerworld Today

Ethernet Service Links Hong Kong to Beijing

HONG KONG -- Hutchison Global Communications (HGC) Holdings Ltd. has launched an Ethernet service that connects Hong Kong with Beijing and China's Guangdong province, in an attempt to meet growing corporate demand for networking connections between Hong Kong and mainland China.

HGC, a unit of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd., said the need for cross-border networking capabilities has been increasing since China joined the World Trade Organization and signed the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement with Hong Kong. The CEPA is designed to improve economic ties between Hong Kong and the rest of China.

The Ethernet service will be offered through an expanded partnership between HGC and Beijing-based China Telecommunications Corp. HGC said the service eliminates the need for companies to reconfigure their networks or install specialized equipment.

The link also lets users adjust the speed of their network connections from a minimum of 2Mbit/sec. to more than 45Mbit/sec., according to HGC.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Briefly Noted

VeriFone Holdings Inc. has agreed to buy rival point-of-sale terminal maker Lipman Electronic Engineering Ltd. in Rosh Haayin, Israel, for about $793 million in cash and stock. San Jose-based VeriFone said Lipman will help it gain access to more wireless and IP-based payment technologies. VeriFone expects to complete the deal by the end of October.

-- Peter Sayer, IDG News Service

Sony Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. have agreed to jointly build a $2 billion facility in Tangjeong, South Korea, for manufacturing LCD panels. The deal expands S-LCD Corp., a joint venture between Sony and Samsung that operates an LCD production line.

-- Martyn Williams, IDG News Service

Comverse Inc. in Wakefield, Mass., has agreed to acquire Netcentrex SA , a vendor of voice-over-IP software in Paris. Comverse will pay about $164 million, plus another $16 million if Netcentrex meets certain financial performance goals. Netcentrex generated about $50 million in revenue last year, said Comverse, which sells software that supports network-based communication and billing services.

-- Grant Gross, IDG News Service

Unilever NV has awarded Accenture Ltd. a seven-year contract to provide application development, implementation and support services to its European operations. The deal expands on an earlier pact under which Hamilton, Bermuda-based Accenture provides consulting and IT services to Rotterdam, Netherlands-based Unilever.

China United Telecommunications Corp., the second-largest mobile network operator in China, has introduced a push e-mail service called RedBerry -- a name that echoes Research In Motion Ltd.'s (RIM) popular BlackBerry service. RIM is in talks with China Unicom's main rival, China Mobile Communications Corp., about launching the BlackBerry service in China. RIM officials didn't comment on the brand name chosen by Hong Kong-based China Unicom.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

Global Fact

49%

Percentage of Europe's online population of 82 million people that used instant messaging applications in February.

Source: ComScore Networks Inc., Reston, Va.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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