A Chinese company is reported to have reverse engineered and cloned the Skype VoIP (voice-over-IP) client.

In a blog post on the topic by VoIPWiki, a process is described by which a call was made and returned on the Skype network using a non-Skype client.

“We talked for a little over nine minutes before the call dropped. Then I called him back using my Skype and we spoke for another three minutes,” the blogger recounts.

“They have plans to add presence, instant messaging, and a host of other features. Their end goal is to create a client 100 percent compatible with Skype,” he says.

Critically, the unnamed Chinese company has emulated Skype’s client without using the software’s super-node architecture, whereby any PC running Skype can be used by other Skype clients as a convenient communications route.

The implications of this could cause Skype a major headache, assuming that the Chinese can kick the software into shape and actually market it to enough people.

“This could eventually have a very negative effect on the Skype network if too many people choose not to act as Skype Super Nodes and the network starts to deteriorate,” the blogger points out.

The Chinese company is also said to have developed its own Skype blocking technology, although others already possess such capability.

If the story is true – and it has yet to be confirmed with hard details – it is not surprising that it should have emerged from China, a region that seems hell bent on developing software to do just about anything free from patent or regulatory restraint.

Skype reacted with a qualified rebuttal of the claims.

“Skype is aware of the claim made by a small group of Chinese engineers that they have reverse engineered Skype software. We have no evidence to suggest that this is true. Even if it was possible to do this, the software code would lack the feature set and reliability of Skype which is enjoyed by over 100 million users today.

“Moreover, no amount of reverse engineering would threaten Skype's cryptographic security or integrity,” the official statement said.