back to article vBulletin sues ex-devs over 'from scratch' competitor

Internet forumware giant vBulletin has sued three former employees, a day before they were due to launch a competing forum-software platform via their new company, the UK-based XenForo. The move has sparked page after page of complaints on the, well, forums run by both vBulletin and XenForo, and though XenForo has delayed the …


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  1. tickedon

    It's out now

    The XenForo beta release is now available, at the $100 sale price for the next 24 hours. Despite what they say in terms of the timing not being related, making a public announcement about the suit at 5:29pm the day before XenForo was meant to go on sale can't reasonably be seen as anything but an attack on XenForo.

    36 hours late (or so), I'm glad that XenForo's now out and I can remove vBulletin from my websites - their vBulletinv4 software is a joke in terms of features and stability (never mind the pricing changes!). They seem to believe in putting their time, money and effort into trying to take down XenForo rather than improving their own software. A real shame but a perfect example of what happens when a big corporation doesn't really understand what it is buying when they acquired Jelsoft/vBulletin.

  2. Jeroen Braamhaar

    I smell ...


    Can it be ?

    *sniffs again*

    Is it ?

    Is it .. really ?

    No, it can't be ...

    *sniffs once more*

    But that scent, it's so unmistakable ... a mixture of doubt, fear and uncertainty, emanating from the headquarters of a largely unchallenged company about to get some competition ...

    ....YES, IT IS!

    I LOVE the smell of FUD in the morning!

    IB, please catch - but I'm keeping the pin ...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      What do you do when a blonde throws a pin at you?

      Run like hell…she's got a hand grenade in her mouth

  3. mafoo


    from the XenForo website:

    XenForo System Requirements

    PHP: 5.2.4+

    MySQL: 5.0+

    PHP extensions: MySQLi, GD, PCRE, SPL, SimpleXML, DOM, JSON

    PHP safe_mode off

    safe_mode off, W T F?!

    1. Renato

      Re: requirements

      As per PHP's own documentation (


      This feature has been DEPRECATED as of PHP 5.3.0. Relying on this feature is highly discouraged."

      So XenForo requiring safe_mode off IMHO is not a strange requirement.

      Yes, I know the current state of shared servers, and the majority of hosting plans uses safe_mode.

      (Warning icon, as the quote starts with "Warning")

  4. ahayes

    IB is full of it.

    There's no similarities between the HTML vBulletin and XenForo spit out that might indicate any code has been copied or even re-factored. The only similarity between the two is the appearance when rendered, which is to be expected because everybody's trying to make their stuff look more "Web 2.0".

  5. ViagraFalls
    Thumb Down

    Internet Bullies

    The sad part is that vBulletin used to be the de facto forum package out there. Then IB bought it. Last year, in November, they announced a vB4 presale, where existing customers got an opportunity to get a discount on thier new vB4 licenses if they would buy the new version right then and there.

    Many, including myself, did so. The actual product was not released until January 2010, and despite its name claiming it was Gold, it was not fit to run on production servers. It took IB more than half a year to come out with a version that semi-works, and until this very day, I do not think I got what I paid for last year.

    Better yet, while the new licensing model was sold as being for the entire lifecycle of vB4, with a nudge back to the three year plus lifecycle of vB3 and being advertised as a great deal that way, the vB VP already mentioned they are working on vB5.

    IB can shove their bugged software and extortion schemes. I just bought myself some XenForo licenses, and will be removing vB from my websites sooner rather than later.

  6. Richard Lloyd

    Reminds me of the SCO vs IBM case, with a twist?

    This sort of reminds me of SCO vs. IBM (SCO claiming to have infringing code, but then not actually producing any). However, if someone buys both the bulletin boards, is the PHP source code for both unobfuscated (i.e. not byte-coded or run through a source obfuscator)? If it isn't, then surely it's just a question of someone going through both and comparing the source code?

    Software patents could be another issue - is any part of vBulletin patented? I guess the only other thing I could think of is clauses in the "defectors" contracts stopping them working for a rival firm for a certain period, though I don't know if those are enforceable or not.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Employment contracts....

    Love to see those contracts; 99.99% of the time they easily get torn up by the EU Human Rights convention.

    Yup I know several people who have "broken" so called binding contracts using this method. Even our own HR have admited there is nothing they can do if we ignore them.

    1. Ned Leprosy

      Re: employment contracts

      I've wondered the same thing myself. I've had contracts that have stipulated "thou shalt not work in the IT industry for three years following your departure" that left me wondering what I /should/ be doing: stacking shelves at Tesco? Spending three years dead for tax reasons? As it was, I just made it clear that I didn't agree to that and several other bizarre clauses (being responsible for dead co-workers was another) and nobody felt like remonstrating with me, but reading stuff like this I'm rather glad I did amend my contract. Even if it's not enforceable, I can do without the threats and other aggravation.

  8. Peter X

    vBulletin = worst search function ever!

    I've always really really really hated vBulletin for having a search function that is pretty much useless. If you search for multiple keywords it's always an "OR" search, and you can't change the boolean logic. is where I've been forced to use this rubbish -- I never understood why they went with something commercial anyway -- anyone know?

    1. A J Stiles


      When I wrote my general-purpose search script, I obviated the need to select "AND" or "OR" by using binary weightings. The first word in the box is worth 1, the second 0.5, the third 0.25 and so on (NB these values are *not* per appearance). A document matching more of the words entered will always score more than a document with fewer of them. The results are then sorted by score, in descending order. You will always get the AND results first, followed by the OR results.

  9. aggh

    Deja vu anyone?

    Them : "They're using our stuff"

    Us : "What stuff? How are they using it?"

    Them : "I can't tell you, but they are, just believe me"

    It's SCO all over again!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Er Forum... users register, post, reply. .... hey someone's using our methodology.

  11. MinionZero

    Internet Brands arrogant attitude won't work on the Internet

    This guy sounds like a typical Narcissistic boss wanting to control his ex-employees and prevent them from becoming competitors.

    As for they "banned multiple paying customers from its own support forums after they complained" ... WTF?! ... is that how they deal with customer feedback?! ... With an arrogant attitude like that people will boycott his company into the ground.

    Sounds like we need more competitors to vBulletin.

    1. yeehaw....
      Thumb Up

      SMF is still around....

      Works well enough for a forum and they seem to keep up with it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I for one am glad they sued

    If they hadnt I would never of known about it

    Thanks for showing me the exit IB :)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    missing feature

    no postgresql = no sale

    1. foxyshadis

      Advanced databases

      Advanced database support always comes to startup projects as soon as someone's willing to pay for it. In fact, that's probably one of their top line items, everyone wants some combination of postgre, sql server, db2, or oracle support. (Do people still use informix?)

  14. Mage Silver badge

    We bought VB

    But got so un-nerved by the departure of the people that made it good and the issues on new version that we scrapped it only 1/2 through the contract (really you have to keep buying every year now)

    We switched to Druapal with "Advanced Forums" module.

    We looked at Simple Machines, phpBB etc

    IB / VB are becoming Trolls.

  15. Lottie

    Sounds to me

    like someone has basically woken up and gone "oh shit, we've been doing sweet F.A in development and now a company made up of ex employees -who know what they're doing- will kick us into touch" and hit the SUE EVERYONE button.

  16. CD001


    I've never really understood why people pay for forum software when there's phpBB, it's only a forum - it's not even like it's difficult to RYO (I did it once as an experiment to see how far I could optimise the database queries back in the days when threaded, tree-structure forums were the norm) - the hardest bit is making a good cross-browser JavaScript WYSIWYG GUI and you could probably use a mix of CKEditor and HTMLPurifier for that now (no real need for BBScript if you can properly sanitise HTML input).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How can it be copyright etc. if no one's seen the code?

    Afterall they sued before it was released?

    So how could they know there was copyright/prior art infringement?

    As has been mentioned, shades of SCO/IBM or MS/Linux there me thinks.

    And didnt California just get a bunch of companies (Intel, Apple, Oracle etc.) to admit that these non-compete contracts are worthless?

    1. AVC

      Smoke and mirrors Internet Brands CEO Robert Brisco

      See this post which explains why Bob Brisco is engaging in mudslinging, he is doing it to hide his own blunders and bumbling management style and to shift the blame for his own failures in running his business.

  18. A J Stiles

    Who gives a flying one?

    Who gives a flying one anyway?

    Seeing that PHPBB is both free (as in £0) and Free (as in GPL), there's really no compelling reason to use anything else.

  19. AVC

    Internet Brands under investigation by the SEC ?

    Bob Brisco has worked his circus magic act "to the T" by cooking the books to keep his stock from selling off, even when it was crashing he worked a deal to "take the company private".

    It looks like Robert Brisco and his CFO have committed securities fraud with their "creative accounting", if investors need to file a compliant with the SEC there is a direct link in the above linked post.

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