Skype and Fring Are In A Legal Debate

On July 9, Fring released an update to their iPhone application where Skype was supported over 3G and WiFi. This was huge for iPhone 4 users since FaceTime video calling built in to the phone is only available via WiFi. Fring had to remove the Skype connection to free up server capacity. But it looks like Fring won’t be having to worry about adding Skype back to their service any time soon. Skype blocked Fring and also threatened legal action against them. Fring responded by calling Skype “cowards” in a blog post:

They are afraid of open mobile communication. Cowards.

Needless to say, we are very disappointed that Skype, who once championed the cause of openness is now trying to muzzle competition, even at the expense of its own users.

We’re sorry for the inconvenience Skype has caused you.

Skype denied they blocked Fring and said that the startup themselves decided not to restore Skype on their service. Skype legal chief Robert Miller also wrote the following blog post:
An hour or so ago, Fring reported on its blog that we had blocked their access to Skype. I want to make one thing absolutely clear: this is untrue.

Fring was using Skype software in a way it wasn’t designed to be used – and in a way which is in breach of Skype’s API Terms of Use and End User License Agreement. We’ve been talking with Fring for some time to try to resolve this amicably.

However, over time, Fring’s mis-use of our software was increasingly damaging our brand and reputation with our customers. On Friday, for example, Fring withdrew support for video calls over Skype on iOS 4 without warning, again damaging our brand and disappointing our customers, who have high expectations of the Skype experience.

We actively encourage developers to build products that work with Skype, acting, of course in accordance with our various API licences. At the same time, Skype will rigorously protect our brand and reputation, and those developers that do not comply with our terms will be subject to legal enforcement.

In this case, however, there is no truth to Fring’s claims that Skype has blocked it. Fring made the decision to remove Skype functionality on its own.

This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at
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