Not So Fast on That ‘Samsung Official’

I was on the cusp of linking to this report on the Samsung-Microsoft Android licensing deal, reported by Kim Yoo-chul for The Korea Times, in order to quote the following:

“If Samsung truly believed that Google’s takeover of Motorola Mobility was going to be helpful to the entire Android eco-system at large, it would have waited until that deal was closed before concluding the license agreement with Microsoft,” said a Samsung official.

“Samsung knows it can’t rely on Google. We’ve decided to address Android IP issues on our own.”

Juicy, right? It’s very likely you’ve seen this elsewhere, as it has been widely re-quoted. Examples: The Next Web, GigaOm, SlashGear, and Android Community. They all properly attribute the quote back to Yoo-chul’s report in The Korea Times.

But a day before The Korea Times story, Florian Mueller wrote the following on his FOSS Patents site:

If Samsung truly believed that Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility was going to be helpful to the Android ecosystem at large, it would have waited until that deal is closed before concluding the license agreement with Microsoft. But Samsung probably knows it can’t rely on Google. It decided to address Android’s intellectual property issues on its own.

It seems clear that the statement The Korea Times attributes to an unnamed “Samsung official” is simply a slight rewording of Mueller’s opinion piece. I emailed Mueller to get his take, and he told me:

I wouldn’t be too harsh on the Korea Times reporter. Language barriers between Asian and Western languages are a huge challenge. I speak several European languages, including that I learned Russian, but all of that is child’s play compared to the differences between Asian and European languages. That’s why I didn’t blog or tweet to criticize him. I had emailed him my post, which I often do when I believe a reporter is working on a topic at the given time, but my email obviously didn’t suggest that I’m a Samsung official…

Considering that Mueller emailed Yoo-chul with his post, I agree that the attribution of these remarks to “a Samsung official” was probably an honest mistake, not plagiarism. Who would plagiarize from someone who emailed them with a “Hey, you might be interested in this piece I wrote” pointer. But given how much attention the remarks have gotten, the sourcing deserves to be corrected.

For what it’s worth, I think Mueller’s analysis is spot-on, and I find it interesting that Samsung hasn’t disavowed the quote. My guess is that this is exactly what Samsung officials really do think, and so they’re willing to let it stand.

(Thanks to DF reader Jon Christensen, who brought this to my attention.)

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