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Platts sues Shanghai firms for plagiarism

THE copyright owner of Platts, the world's leading energy and metals information provider, accused two local companies of plagiarizing its price assessments and market analysis and selling them for profits at a court hearing yesterday.

The US-based McGraw-Hill Companies Inc, which governs the Platts department, sued Shanghai Dongran Information Technology Ltd and Shanghai Ranyu Petrochemical Information Consulting Co Ltd for infringing on its copyright and engage in unfair competition because they were competitors in the same information service industry.

The plaintiff is seeking 2 million yuan (US$303,490) in compensation from the defendants.

Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court heard the lawsuit yesterday without giving a verdict.

McGraw-Hill said Platts analysts made price assessments of different petroleum products based on a large amount of industry information they collected from special channels and on their experiences, professional knowledge and industrial backgrounds.

Platts has built its reputation for creditable price assessments which are widely used as benchmarks in industrial transactions because there isn't an open market of petroleum products, the court heard.

"Platts is our group's intellectual property and its copyright should be protected," an American employee, who is in charge of Platts' business in Asia, told the court. "It's very unlikely that the assessed prices will be exactly the same as those provided by analysts of other companies."

The plaintiff found the prices provided by the defendants were exactly the same as the middle prices from Platts over the two years from 2007 to 2008. Besides, the market reviews by the defendants were just Chinese translations from the English versions by Platts.

"It can't be coincidence and must be plagiarism. The issue time by the defendants was always later than the plaintiff," the indictment said.

The defendants allegedly sold their copied prices and market reviews at 3,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan a year, much lower than Platts' price of US$20,000 a year.

Their low prices must have undermined the Platts' market share, McGraw-Hill said.

The defendants argued that the prices and market reviews by Platts weren't unique and could be obtained from other channels. They stressed that they got the data legally from the China Petroleum Website, not Platts.


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