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Google updates Chinese writing system 2007-04-09 19:42:56
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    BEIJING, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Google has upgraded its "Gu Ge" pinyin input system for Chinese characters after accusations that it had copied much of its vocabulary database from major Chinese rival Sohu.

    However, the U.S.-based company refused to confirm or deny that it copied data from Sohu's Sogou input method editor (IME), despite admitting to "leveraging some non-Google database resources".

    Input method editors allow computer users to write in Chinese characters using the Roman alphabet keyboard.

    The Sogou IME, launched by Sohu for its Sogou search engine in mid-2006, has gained wide popularity among users.

    Claims that the Google IME, launched on April 4, resembled the Sogou IME appeared on the Internet shortly after Google launched its Chinese IME on Wednesday.

    The developers of the Sogou IME, who were the first to protest, said they were amazed that their names, which were not common in Chinese, appeared in the vocabulary database of the Google IME.

    For instance, the pinyin for "zhao li yang" under the Google IME automatically produced the exact Chinese characters for the name of Zhao Liyang, a member of the Sogou team.

    The same happened with the names of other Sogou team members, such as Tong Zijian and Guo Bo.

    Normally, for Chinese names not included in the vocabulary database of an IME, users must choose the exact Chinese characters one by one as a single pinyin form can denote dozens of different Chinese characters.

    Sohu said on Sunday in a statement that the company had never publicized in any form its vocabulary database for its Sogou IME, nor given any authorization to Google for access to the vocabulary database.

    The company asked Google to publicly apologize for infringing its vocabulary database and demanded it cease downloads of the Google IME, saying Sohu retained the right of further action.

    Google issued a statement in response, saying, "Apart from suggestions on product function improvement, Google also noticed queries on the dictionary, which in its initial R&D stage, was built leveraging some non-Google database resources. We are willing to face this issue of ours.

    "While we apologize for the inconvenience this may have incurred, we have also adopted immediate actions. By noon Sunday, April 8, 2007, we have completed the second comprehensive upgrade (version 17 of beta 1.0) of the Gu Ge pinyin input system.

    "The new dictionary is now based on tens of thousands of entries Google's enormous search database has accumulated over the years."

    A spokeswoman for Google's public relations agency, Ogilvy Worldwide, when asked directly if Google had used the Sogou database, would not comment, saying she was not technically qualified to answer the question.

Editor: Yangtze Yan
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