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Mozilla, Oath Sue Each Other over Terminated Yahoo Search Engine Deal

08 December 2017, 01:08 | Megan Pierce

Mozilla, Oath Sue Each Other over Terminated Yahoo Search Engine Deal

Mozilla, Oath Sue Each Other over Terminated Yahoo Search Engine Deal

Mozilla has responded to a lawsuit from Yahoo Holding and Oath for improper termination of the agreement make Yahoo the default search engine in Firefox by filing a cross complaint for breach of contract. The lawsuit focuses on Yahoo Holding and Oath which was based on Mozilla's agreement with the search engine for putting the default search browser in their web browsers. The case was filed by Verizon in the Court of California on 1st of December.

However, Yahoo changed hands in between with Verizon being the new owners.

In short - Oath blames Mozilla.

"Yahoo has suffered and will continue to suffer competitive injury to its business and reputation, among other harm, and Mozilla's material breaches and bad-faith conduct are a substantial factor in causing such harm", the claim states.

The contract to this effect was signed by former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and can be seen as a desperate attempt to wean Mozilla away from Google. Web browsers, where most Internet users start their online visits, are a lucrative source of search traffic against which companies like Yahoo and Google sell ads.

While Mozilla emphasizes that the decision to replace Yahoo with Google was exclusively taken to improve the customer experience with the new version of the web browser, Yahoo has knocked the court's door with the hope of saving its limited customer base through the web browser. On December 5, Mozilla filed a cross-complaint seeking to ensure that our rights under our contract with Yahoo are enforced.

"Rather than focus on improving the quality of its search product, as Yahoo assured Mozilla it would prior to entering into the deal, Yahoo continually focused on short-term monetization and special events such as the Olympics and the election, at the expense of product quality", Mozilla alleges. While there remains a user option in Firefox to change the default search engine, the move resulted in Yahoo reaching five-year high search volumes a few months after the agreement.

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So it seems Mozilla can switch search partners and still expect revenue.

Firefox default search providers in other regions are Yandex in Russia, Turkey, Belarus and Kazakhstan; Baidu in China; and Google in the rest of the world.

"Yahoo Acquirer's response to Mozilla's concerns was in stark contrast to Yahoo's assurances from CEO Mayer at the time the Strategic Agreement was entered into", the counter-claim stated.

In its complaint, Mozilla also asked that Yahoo comply with the agreement's payment requirements, noting that those "are key to financing Mozilla's efforts to launch the new version of its flagship product, Firefox". In its announcement, it noted that Google was now the default search provider in the United States and Canada.

Due to the unstable condition of Yahoo, Verizon chose to buy the search engine company along with all its other subsidiaries.

Mayer's tenure at Yahoo was marred by a series of questionable management decisions that included spending $3 billion on acquisitions and famously paying ad man Henrique de Castro $109 million for 15 months of work. The lawsuit seeks damages, court costs and other forms of relief that have not been publicly disclosed.



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