Global Dispatches

An international news digest

BSA Boosts Its Bounty on Software Pirates

LONDON -- The Business Software Alliance is doubling through June 30 the bounty it offers to employees in the U.K. who report that their companies are using unlicensed software.

The vendor-funded BSA, whose European operations are based in London, is temporarily offering rewards of up to ¿20,000 ($37,000 U.S.) to whistleblowers in the U.K. In July, the group will revert to its regular payment offer of up to ¿10,000 for reports of unlicensed software, which it has had in place since 2000, a BSA spokesman said last week.

The BSA said it timed the special bounty offer to coincide with employee bonus and salary reviews at many U.K. companies. It claimed that during the review period, the likelihood that companies will be reported by disgruntled staffers is higher.

Many businesses still "think they can get away with" using illegal software, Siobhan Carroll, the BSA's regional manager for Northern Europe, said in a statement. "By doubling the incentives for informants, we are also effectively doubling the risk for businesses of getting caught out," she said. "Hopefully, this will make software licensing a higher priority."

Matthew Broersma, Techworld.com

Official Says Patents Are Losing China Money

BEIJING -- A high-level Chinese official claimed late last month that the country has lost a total of $1 billion in disputes over intellectual property rights since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Science and Technology Minister Xu Guanhua told the state-run Xinhua News Agency on April 27 that intellectual property disputes -- involving televisions, MP3 players, digital cameras and other products -- have struck a "devastating blow" to parts of the Chinese economy.

Xu said that most Chinese companies don't apply for patents on their inventions and that many are making royalty payments to overseas patent holders. In addition, China's attempts to create wireless LAN and optical-disc technology standards in order to avoid having to pay royalties on foreign patents in those areas have been largely unsuccessful thus far.

Xu's remarks represent the Chinese government's first attempt to publicly encourage companies to develop products that aren't dependent on technologies from other countries, said David Wolf, CEO of Wolf Group Asia Ltd., a technology consulting firm in Beijing. He added that the new strategy could make it harder for foreign businesses to convince Chinese companies to adopt their technologies.

Steven Schwankert, IDG News Service

Acer's Q1 Profit Doubles Despite Competition

TAIPEI -- Despite what executives called cutthroat competition among PC makers, Acer Inc. late last month reported that its first-quarter profit doubled from a year ago.

"It's been bloody fighting for the past three months," Acer Chairman J.T. Wang said, noting that rivals such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. have stepped up their sales efforts in Europe, which is Acer's primary market.

Net profit at Taipei-based Acer rose to 5.23 billion New Taiwan dollars ($165 million U.S.), up from 2.56 billion New Taiwan dollars ($81 million) in last year's first quarter. Revenue increased 26% to 83 billion New Taiwan dollars ($2.6 billion), the company said.

Competition in the PC industry heated up as overall worldwide sales slowed during the first quarter, Wang said. He added that he expects Acer's rivalry with HP, Dell and other vendors to remain intense throughout the year.

Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

Yahoo Tailors Southeast Asian Web Sites

MANILA -- Yahoo Inc. late last month announced plans to localize the home pages of its Web sites in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Company officials said they hope that the move will help the company gain long-term loyalty from Internet users in those countries.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo, which is facing increased competition from Google Inc., said the new home pages will offer more content in each country's national language. The company said that its search and mail tools will also be converted into local languages.

Yahoo has already launched a localized version of its home page in the Philippines, said Reza Behnam, managing director of the company's operations in Southeast Asia. Behnam said Yahoo localized the Philippines site first because it anticipates significant growth in Internet use as a result of that country's effort to boost its native IT industry.

April B. Rojales, Computerworld Philippines

Intel to Push Low-Cost PCs, Internet Access

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Intel Corp. last week announced that it plans to spend $1 billion over the next five years to develop low-cost PCs for use in developing countries and to deliver Internet access to businesses and residents in those locales.

The company said that it will develop new types of affordable PCs, spread Internet connectivity via WiMax-based wireless broadband networks and train 10 million teachers to use the technologies.

In announcing its plan, which is dubbed World Ahead, Intel was careful to say that it isn't getting into the PC-making business. The company will contract with hardware manufacturers to build the new PC designs. The technologies developed as part of the plan will be sold in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, India and Nigeria, Intel said.

"There's been a lot of talk about getting cheap PCs into the hands of folks in developing markets," said Richard Shim, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. "But if they don't know how to use them, it won't work."

Ben Ames, IDG News Service

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Briefly Noted

BT Group PLC has bought Dabs.com PLC, an online technology retailer in Westhoughton, England, for an undisclosed sum as part of an effort to increase its Internet-based sales. The www.dabs.com Web site offers about 15,000 products to more than 1 million registered customers in the U.K. Dabs.com will retain its name and become a wholly owned subsidiary of BT, the companies said.

Radhika Praveen, Techworld.com

Software AG in Darmstadt, Germany, said its first-quarter profit rose 23% year over year to €14.4 million ($18.2 million U.S.). Revenue in the three-month period that ended March 31 grew 13.5% to €113.8 million ($144 million). The vendor of databases and application development and integration tools credited strong software license sales for the growth in the quarter.

John Blau, IDG News Service

A group of U.S. scientists, with help from Sun Microsystems Inc. and federal government agencies, last week launched an online library containing more than 1 million research articles for use by scientists and university students in Iraq. The Iraqi Virtual Science Library project was started with $362,000 in seed money from the U.S. Department of Defense .

Grant Gross, IDG News Service

Germany's Federal Office for Information Security last week unveiled several open-source desktop and security applications during the LinuxTag conference in Wiesbaden. The applications were developed under the government's Experiment With Open Source Software project, which aims to make open-source technologies easier to install and use within government agencies.

John Blau, IDG News Service

Business Objects SA in Paris last week announced new tools for data federation and metadata management. Data Federator XI and Metadata Manager XI can present data from multiple sources through a common interface, improving the quality and consistency of information in business intelligence reporting systems, the company said. It also detailed two new reporting tools -- Crystal Vision and Crystal Vision Server -- that will ship later this month.

Peter Sayer, IDG News Service

Global Fact

$18B

The cost of security breaches caused by computer viruses, spyware, hacking attacks and thefts of IT equipment at British companies last year, up 50% from 2004.

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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