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Naver’s photo app Snow embroiled in plagiarism row

By KH디지털2

Published : Aug. 1, 2016 - 17:04

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[THE INVESTOR] A local start-up has accused South Korean Internet search giant Naver of copying its photo and video-editing app.

Seerslab alleged that Naver’s Snow app copied the image and camera functions of its photo-editing app Lollicam. 


Naver’s Snow is a photo app that enables users to take photos with face-tracking “stickers” and share them with friends. The app has hit 40 million downloads so far since it was first launched in September.

Seerslab claims that Snow’s imaging functions, “stickers” and background music copied its app Lollicam unveiled four months before Snow’s release.

The company also said that Naver copied other foreign services.

“Naver’s Snow copied the technologies of camera and imaging parts from Lollicam and messenger parts from Snapchat. It is also copying similar content from others such as Chinese app BeautyPlus,” Seerslab chief Michael Chong told The Korea Herald in an email.

Seerslab is a pioneer in photo-editing apps in South Korea.

It launched a beta app Pixbee, which arranges and shares photo albums through face recognition, in December 2014 on Apple’s app store in the U.S.

It later changed the app’s name to Lollicam and rolled it out in Korea in May 2015, the company said. Pixbee is still downloadable on the U.S. app store.

Naver’s spokesperson refuted the start-up, saying, “Seerslab’s claim is groundless because there are already many similar services in the global market.”

This is not the first time Naver has been accused of plagiarism. Last month, the tech giant unveiled a translation service, but soon ended it after translation crowdsourcing platform Flitto -- a former partner of Naver -- accused Naver of ripping off its technology.

Kim Sang-hun, the chief executive of Naver, said on the company’s blog then, “We have decided to stop our translation services as of this month after receiving complaints that they appear to be a rip-off of Flitto.”

A day before the remark was made, Flitto’s chief Simon Lee had said, “Naver’s translation team continued to tell me they would only focus on automatic translation service rather than crowd-sourcing service since the first meeting in May 2014. … But, later, they unveiled the similar service.”

“Large companies can make a service --- which is made by start-ups for years -- only within two months. The Korean culture, (in) which large firms downplay services of start-ups, is a big obstacle to the growth of small companies,” he added.

By Shin Ji-hye/The Korea Hearld (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)