I am in China and as we were preparing the launch of Fon in China with our Chinese partners we confirmed that abitcool is indeed a detailed copy of Fon in China. The company behind Abitcool has their code even includes notes that we made in our code. But since our firmware is open source and we want to spread the community on a global basis it is somewhat cool that this is happening (it would have been cooler to be notified). As it stands we just have to make sure we can all roam with each other. If not t would not be even be a bit cool. In the meantime, until our web site in Chinese is ready, Chinese people are welcome to come to Fon and download our firmware.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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gerhard on June 5, 2006  · 

sounds like a real new chinese revolution – only without mao 🙂

in fact we in europe would call this simply “plagiatism” – who can be proud of ?

maybe that the idea behind this approach should be to digitally keep chinese locked in in china – who knows?

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China Law Blog on June 5, 2006  · 

Unless you registered your IP in China or did so internationally, there is probably not all that much you can do about this anyway.

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David Oliver on June 6, 2006  · 

Imitation rather than innovation (“Copy 2 China”) is still the norm in China and is one of the easiest ways for a Chinese company to raise funding. Youtube, Craigslist, Digg, social networking sites, web 2.0 – you name it, they all have imitators who pop up like mushrooms and are funded by an adundance of VC cash that has been committed to China but that hasn’t found a suitable home. In fact there are VCs who won’t fund a business unless its model has been proven overseas.

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Austin2TX on June 6, 2006  · 

What about FON? Did FON copy DD-WRT or chilispot? I don’t know anything about what opensource is about. If FON can do so, why not abit someone else?

As long as we all recognize everyone else’s contribution in this sharing world, it is fair. Abitcool at least claims in public that where it is from. I’d like to see the same from FON – show appreciation to who had contributed


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Iurgi on June 7, 2006  · 


FON did not copy anything 🙂 We only took open source projects and used them to build our network. But we didn’t stop there, we have been collaborating with these projects, donating devices, paying the developers (we actually have up to 5 of the core developers of this projects working for FON or collaborating with us directly) and adding improvements we developed ourselves. We are not only recognizing who did what, but also helping them grow.

You mention Abitcool did claim in public our authory of the 99’99% of the code (apart from the chillispot and openwrt), and that is something I didn’t knew about but makes me happy. I’ll look for it.

We, specially Martin, didn’t complain about having been copied. We just said it as something interesting and even cool!

The only thing I miss is that their firmware included the required mentions to our work… and also, where the source code is. That’s the only complain we could place…


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Carlos Sanchez on June 10, 2006  · 

If you check the copyright notice, you will see that they removed the “copyrigth 2006 FON” header. If they are using any of the portions whose copyrigth is owned by FON and not by OpenWRT then they are doing something illegal regarding the GPL license. Maybe the look and feel, maybe something else, you can check.

There’s in general an absolute lack of legal knowledge about open source.

3.0 rating

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