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Google Sued for $1B Over Outlook Migration Tool

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the thats-a-lotta-bucks dept.

Google 332

A two-count lawsuit filed by Chicago company LimitNone alleges that Google misappropriated trade secrets and violated Illinois' consumer fraud laws when it developed "Google Email Uploader" which competes with LimitNone's "gMove" application. "Google claims its core philosophy is 'Don't be evil' but, simply put, they invited us to work with them, to trust them — and then stole our technology,'" said Ray Glassman, CEO of LimitNone, in a prepared statement. The lawsuit was filed by Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, the same commercial litigation group which challenged Google over the company's online advertising system.

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332 comments

My philosophy (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23934345)

Don't be first post.

Re:My philosophy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23934495)

Dear Anonymous Coward,

The author of popular first-posting tool Bone-O-Rama, cyborg_monkey, has filed a lawsuit against you individually and against any entity under which you conduct business alleging infringement of Bone-O-Rama technology.

cyborg_monkey holds that you invited him into a technology sharing agreement the terms of which prevent you from independently using, allowing others to use, or cause to be use, any first posting technology, whether derived from or distinct from, that same technology as used by Bone-O-Rama. Further allegation include but are not limited to: Repeated inappropriate remarks by you about Bone-O-Rama placed on popular blogs, your garbling of the Bone-O-Rama trademark "First Post!" (such garblings include "fr0st ps0t!" and the like), and also cyborg_monkey has a general dissatisfaction with the way you conduct yourself just in general, and we think you registered the Slashdot account cydorg_money, which is obviously trademark dillution.

You'd be wise to post a retraction while there is still time, and apologize for your affronts to decency.

Get Rich (1, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934375)

If you can't get rich by making a worthy product, then get rich by suing someone. (No, I didn't read the article, but we all know this is the new way of business for most companies - sue their way to wealth.)

Re:Get Rich (5, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934501)

You really should have read the article. If what's said in the article is even partially true, it sure looks like Google acted in a pretty sleazy fashion. Apparently they were willing to boost this company's product until they realized how much money could be made from it, at which point they decided to build their own clone and give it away for free. It's like Netscape/IE all over again.

Re:Get Rich (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23934767)

Apparently they were willing to boost this company's product until they realized how much money could be made from it, at which point they decided to build their own clone and give it away for free
Ah yes, Google made a killing off this deal! The board room discussion must have gone something like this:

Product Analyst: "Look at this gMove product, they are selling hundreds, maybe even thousands of copies. They're making a lot of money! We should do something about it."

VP of Development: "Okay, let's develop our own."

Accountant: "How much should we charge for it?"

Product Analyst: "Well, the makers of gMove believe that they could sell 50 million copies for $29.99- that's like 1 billion dollars!" (said while holding pinky finger to mouth, of course)

VP of Sales: "We could probably sell even more copies if it was cheaper"

Accountant steps out to go to the bathroom.

Product Analyst: "Imagine how many copies we could sell if it was free!!"

VP of Development: "Okay, let's do it! That'll really show 'em!"

Re:Get Rich (5, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934813)

1. It's press release by the plaintiff's lawyers.

2. "until they realized how much money could be made from it, at which point they decided to build their own clone and give it away for free." WTF? That doesn't even make sense. We could make a fortune if we had this product, lets give it away for free and we'll all be rich!!! No. I'm not sure if Google cares _how_ the conversion is done, just that the users come to Google at some point in the transaction. A converter, while convenient if it's free, is just as valuable if somebody else sells it...as long as it it used.

Re:Get Rich (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934857)

Yes, it's a press release, which is why I said "if it's even partially true", which it may not be.

As for what Google gets out of it, if they want people to use a converter obviously giving it away for free will result in a far higher adoption rate. They may also have wanted to add it as a free feature of their Premium service to make that service more attractive to potential customers.

The whole thing could be frivolous, but if the facts are as stated in the article (press release), then it's a sleazy thing for Google to do.

Re:Get Rich (5, Informative)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935035)

As you point out, Google's profit interest is in more migrations from Outlook. That means that anyone offering a Outloog migration tool is to Google's good. However, someone offering a converter for $$$ raises a barrier: some people won't pay for a converter; if they can't migrate for free they won't use Gmail. How do you overcome that barrier? Offer a converter for free. Yeah, the guys trying to sell their converter get shafted. But Google wins by getting more users who migrate off of Outlook.

That's the motivation point you seem to be neglecting. That's the ??? before "Profit!". In your words, that's WTF.

And yeah, I know, that's the story according to the plaintiff's legal team. We've unofficially heard one side of the story. (Yeah, unofficially. As you point out, it's a press release, not the actual filings.) So, there's obviously a lot more story to come. I hope Groklaw follows this one.

Re:Get Rich (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935409)

Well, since LimitNone's own website says that they are "...a leading provider of applications that leverage the revolutionary iPhone and other mobile devices to deliver communication solutions and GPS location-based services to mobile workers." this seems to be a bit of a failed business agreement rather than a stolen core of their business plan. Is it kind of sleazy to steal somebodies idea and make it better? Perhaps, but it depends on a lot of other factors. The talks sounded like they started over a year ago. That's a long time on the internet - maybe Google needed it done now. And conversion software isn't exactly a "novel" idea.

They may be truly wronged, but my money is on the likelihood that they put in the order for the new yacht and private plane before they had shipping product and paying customers and now they're figuring to get the phantom money they might have had by fishing with expensive lawyers.

Re:Get Rich (5, Insightful)

devnullkac (223246) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935013)

Sleazy? Maybe. That depends on the he-said she-said details of the "I promise I won't" allegations. The only thing that matters is in the third to last paragraph of the press release:

"Google Email Uploader" steals gMove's look, feel and functionality
Microsoft proved you can't steal look and feel (from Apple, anyway). Stealing functionality sounds like reverse engineering to me.

I think it comes down to a quote from Richard Marx:

It don't mean nothing, the words that they say ... It don't mean nothing till you sign it on the dotted line.

Not article --- lawyer's press release (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23935091)

See comment above [slashdot.org] .

It's just a press release written by the plaintiff's lawyers, dressed up as an article. The only really hard fact here is that the plaintiff's lawyers are doing an OK job smearing Google; possibly in an attempt to force Google into a quick settlement for public relations reasons.

Talk about a knee jerk reaction... (5, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934519)

If even half of their claims are founded in truth then this is a worthy lawsuit and Google acted in an 'evil' manner. I'll clue you in on something: not all lawsuits are bad. The mechanism exists for a reason.

Then again at least you admitted that you are totally uninformed on the subject since you didn't read the (short) article.

Re:Talk about a knee jerk reaction... (5, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934571)

You do realize you didn't read an article either, right?

Its a press-release. By the lawyers. Who are filing the lawsuit. How much of that $1B do you think they'll keep?

Re:Talk about a knee jerk reaction... (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934629)

Yes I did read the short article and yes it was a press release. As I said, IF even HALF of what they claim is true then they seem to have a very good case.

Tort reform is another topic entirely and we might even agree on that.

So what if it is a press release? (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934959)

They made certain allegations about Google's conduct. If half of those allegations prove true, then it is perfectly reasonable to call Google a sleazy company to work with. It is perfectly reasonable to say "if half of these allegations prove true, then Google is sleazy" irrespective of whether or not the original charges came from a press release or an article.

Re:Talk about a knee jerk reaction... (2, Informative)

mishehu (712452) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935329)

Even more important, how much of that $1 billion do you think they'd even win in the lawsuit? Converters for MS LookOut (Outlook) are nothing new, and I find it extremely hard to believe that there is a $1 billion market for this software.

Maybe next they should sue Mozilla because Thunderbird can convert email from Outlook...

Re:Talk about a knee jerk reaction... (1, Redundant)

The Warlock (701535) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934595)

It's not an article, it's a press release from the plaintiff's attorneys.

I mean, I guess press releases are sort of formatted kinda like news articles, but that doesn't mean they count.

Dicksmack (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23934615)

Your a dicksmack.

Re:Dicksmack (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23935011)

No.

YOU'RE a dicksmack.

Re:Talk about a knee jerk reaction... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934793)

If even half of their claims are founded in truth then this is a worthy lawsuit and Google acted in an 'evil' manner.
It's a press release written by lawyers. Well all know that lawyers NEVER distort the facts, spread misinformation or outright lie right? Right?

Re:Get Rich (5, Interesting)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934529)

A successful lawsuit against Google could be like the small pebble that causes a landslide.

$1B is a ridiculous amount of money for this lawsuit, but even at $10M, a successful suit would bring more lawsuits out of the woodwork.

And I'm willing to bet that once it happened, Microsoft would be more than happy to finance as many as possible.

Re:Get Rich (5, Informative)

shadow349 (1034412) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934693)

$1B is a ridiculous amount of money for this lawsuit
I'm guessing the amount is based on this (from TFA):

The lawsuit alleges the tool, which was originally named "MY GRATE" was later renamed, at Google's insistence, "gMove". Though the product retailed for $29, Google asked that LimitNone sell it to Google's customers for $19.
and

According to the complaint, Scott McMullan, a senior executive in the Google Apps partner program, told LimitNone that the potential for 50 million users - was "just too big to come from someone else" and that "this is how Google operates."

50 mil * $19 = $950 million

Re:Get Rich (1, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935069)

Right... in other words - some exec pulled some BS number out of his backside and now Google is getting sued based on that number. Come on. I guess it was only a matter of time before we saw a lawsuit based on someone else's made up numbers rather than the plaintiff's.

Absolutely not. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23934789)

$1B is a ridiculous amount of money for this lawsuit, but even at $10M, a successful suit would bring more lawsuits out of the woodwork.

If it were only $10 million, Google would just take it out of their toilet paper and soft drink budget and forget about it and it would be business as usual: $10 million is nothing to a big monster mega-corp and it doesn't get any headlines like a BILLION DOLLAR award does. In other words, it only cost $10 million, shit! Let's do it again. Paying off a $10 million lawsuit is much cheaper than developing, marketing, researching it ourselves!

With a billion dollar penalty, it gets them thinking that maybe they shouldn't continue on this path.

Re:Absolutely not. (1)

mishehu (712452) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935407)

Suddenly I have the scene of Dr. Evil demanding One Hundred Beelyon Dollars going in my head...

Re:Get Rich (3, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934893)

And I'm willing to bet that once it happened, Microsoft would be more than happy to finance as many as possible.
Who? Microsoft? Financing [wikipedia.org] awsuits [wikipedia.org] ? Nah, I'm sure they'd never do that.

Re:Get Rich (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934929)

s/awsuits/lawsuits. Maybe I should *read* the previews.

Re:Get Rich (2, Informative)

stiggystiggy (266085) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935117)

~$1B == 50,000,000 users * $19 per user.

50,000,000 users == the number of potential users, according to the "Google Exec" in the press release.

$19 per user == the price the plaintiff was going to sell the product for.

Re:Get Rich (5, Insightful)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934569)

If you can't get rich by making a worthy product, then get rich by suing someone. (No, I didn't read the article, but we all know this is the new way of business for most companies - sue their way to wealth.)
If you developed and spent money on a product that you felt was stolen, wouldn't you seek compensation for that loss? I'm not saying the $1B figure is reasonable, but regardless, if Google did what the accuser says, then at least they must make a fight for it.

Obviously, the product is interesting if Google supposedly wanted to steal it.

Re:Get Rich (-1, Flamebait)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934735)

Hey, this is Slashdot. If you spent money developing a product which was then stolen, you're supposed to shrug your shoulders, realize you were stupid for believing in "intellectual property," then go right back to work on something else to give away.

Re:Get Rich (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23934607)

And make sure you come up with a nice number.

"What should we sue for?"
"Well, we came up with real damages of up to $123,400"
"What? No, you need a cool number, like $500 gajillion!"
"Ummm, that isn't a real number."
"Ok, 1 billion. There, happy now?"

Re:Get Rich (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934649)

You are being a bit dramatic.

There is really very little stopping one entity from suing another for any frivolous thing. Or from making a habit of it. So we get articles like this, or like the one not too long ago where that judge sued the dry cleaner for losing his pants, and people get really worked up about the litigation culture we have.

The problem is that few people pay attention long enough to see who wins what. While there are no doubt silly awards handed out every day, and even sillier settlements outside the courts, it isn't any kind of epidemic and there is no way 'most' companies use this as a business model. Simple math should show that situation isn't sustainable.

People who talk about product liability still bring up the old-lady-vs-McDonalds coffee lawsuit as an example, and that went down something like 15 years ago. Listen to them and you'd think that kind of thing happens every day.

Re:Get Rich (5, Informative)

smidget2k4 (847334) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935019)

Offtopic, but that "old-lady vs McDonalds" lawsuit was actually valid, though it was taken by the tort-reform people and manipulated to seem like a silly lawsuit.

McDonalds had been warned several times by the FDA to lower the temperature of their coffee, as several people each year were severely burned by it. The woman was in the passenger seat, her son was driving, and they had pulled off to the side of the drive-thru so she could put sugar in the coffee. When opening the lid, the cup slipped and spilled on to her lap.

The woman suffered third degree burns over her thigh and groin area, totaling to be about 20% of her body, and second degree burns in her groin area.

She then contacted McDonalds, explaining the situation to them, and asked them to reimburse part of her medical bills (for burn treatment and skin grafts). They offered her $500. Since her bills were quickly climbing into the high tens of thousands of dollars, she sued for the cost of her medical expenses.

It was the jury that decided medical expenses were not enough, and awarded her punitive damages (to punish McDonalds) totaling one day's revenue in coffee sales. McDonalds appealed the decision, and an appellate judge overturned the punitive damages. She ended up getting somewhere around $200,000, which barely covered her medical expenses up to that point.

Sorry, that was very off topic, but that case is misused as an example for tort reform so often I felt it needed to be stated. There are other ridiculous cases, sure, but that really isn't one of them. More info here. [centerjd.org]

Re:Get Rich (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934663)

Ok, I had a chance to read the article and 1) Google said they wouldn't develop a competing product. Did LimitNone have that in a contract? I'm guessing no. And, more importantly, 2) at $19 a pop for 50 million premier customers, that works out, in my basic math, to $100 million. A little short of the 1 BILLION the suit alleges in economic damages. Google may have been dickish in going back on their word, but Google was (presumably) under no contractual obligation to not develop a competing product and LimitNone is suing for an outrageously excessive amount of money, well beyond the actual financial damages they might possibly suffer (not all 50 million premier customers would necessarily buy their product). So, sorry, this still smacks of a company trying to get rich by suing the big kid on the block.

Re:Get Rich (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934985)

Ignore my math. No coffee yet. Me stoopid. Jebus, I can be daft sometimes...

Re:Get Rich (2, Funny)

Ioldanach (88584) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935053)

And, more importantly, 2) at $19 a pop for 50 million premier customers, that works out, in my basic math, to $100 million.
Fortunately for the plaintiff, actual math causes that to work out to $950 million.

Re:Get Rich (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935349)

I suspect the product would have actually been sold for $19.99, not $19. In which case, the math would work out to $999,500,000. Just a tad bit shy of the $1B mark.

Re:Get Rich (1)

dayjn (942897) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935109)

Um, 19 dollars multiplied by 50 million = 950 million (just short of a billion) your math needs help! correct, only a fraction of the customers would buy the converter so the 1 billion seems a bit high, I'd say 500 million is better.

New Math! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23935169)

So you think 50 * 19 = 100?

Try again. This time with a calculator.

Public school graduate?

Re:Get Rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23935283)

Your basic math: $19 times 50,000,000 != 100,000,000. It does indeed equal $1,000,000,000. You probably know that and are likely coding a patch for Slashcode to allow editing of previous posts...

You've got a little evil there on your mouth... (0)

wolfen (12255) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934379)

Wow, if the allegations in the article are even partially accurate,
  Google deserves to take a massive PR hit on this at the least
and probably owes these guys some serious money.

Re:You've got a little evil there on your mouth... (5, Informative)

Intron (870560) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934463)

What article? Business wire is a press release service. The "article" authors are listed at the bottom: Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, the lawyers who are suing google.

Re:You've got a little evil there on your mouth... (5, Funny)

The Warlock (701535) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934523)

Wait, you think Slashdot editors actually read the article? I'd say "you must be new here", but then somebody with a 4-digit UID would be legally obligated to come over and bitch-slap me.

Re:You've got a little evil there on your mouth... (5, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934599)

*slap*

You're welcome.

Re:You've got a little evil there on your mouth... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935137)

You must be n...

oh shit

Re:You've got a little evil there on your mouth... (1, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934975)

I read the article, as well as several others on the same subject, before I submitted it.

It's a news story, and I know there's not a lot of information there, but remember Slashdot is a discussion site. I'm sure we'll be able to introduce tome interesting analysis ourselves rather than being spoonfed content by the news media.

If you're not sure where to start, how about looking at how hard it would be to export Outlook emails, and whether it would be particularly challenging to develop an app like this.

Re:You've got a little evil there on your mouth... (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935217)

It is a news story in the same way that Taco Bell's new additions to their Extra Value Menu is a news story.

I'm going to start submitting links to all the cool banner ads I run across. Next up on Slashdot: Dude You're Getting a Dell!

Re:You've got a little evil there on your mouth... (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935317)

The "article" authors are listed at the bottom: Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, the lawyers who are suing google.
To make it clear, since the summary is also misleading:

KD&W are not suing Google.

LimitNone is suing Google, and have retained KD&W as counsel.

I understand that many slashdotters (and people in general) have a distrust/dislike/hatred of lawyers, but is an important distinction to make.

KD&W was counsel for the other lawsuit mentioned in the summary, but they did not in fact sue Google. KD&W is used in a lot of IP/trade secret cases because they are good at it, particularly with respect to software. They have knowledge and they have experience.

Not that I'm defending lawyers in general here (forgot to wear my asbestos undergarments today), but when I use a paring knife to stab someone, do you get mad at the knife or do you get mad at me?

Re:You've got a little evil there on your mouth... (1)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934489)

Thats a pretty big IF there buddy. Lets put it this way. Google donates lots and lots of code. Why the hell would they take a little utility like this when it is giving away dev time for free?

Re:You've got a little evil there on your mouth... (1)

MrMickS (568778) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935267)

Just because Google does some good works doesn't mean that they are always right. From the press release, its not really an article, it looks as though Google gave the impression that they were pushing LimitNone's product to their users and that there was an understanding that they wouldn't release a competing program.

That said, unless LimitNone's product keeps someones gMail and Outlook accounts in sync, this looks like an excessive amount of money for a trival tool.

Re:You've got a little evil there on your mouth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23934491)

probably owes these guys some serious money
Maybe (didn't RTFA), but not $1B. Does anyone really think they could make a billion selling an email transfer program? Somebody else would have made an free open-source version within a few weeks (and probably already has.)

Re:You've got a little evil there on your mouth... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934559)

I'm wondering if the trade secrets they stole were the public Outlook plug-in APIs or the methods of interoperating with gmail (imap, smtp). Maybe it was the concept of mapping an "Outlook email message" to an "Internet email message".

It's (apparently) a dick move on Google's part, but the idea that the other company had significant technology is pushing it a bit.

The Amazing Karnak (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934403)

.... says that the majority of posts will be about which side is screwing who despite no one on Slashdot having any clue about what happened at the meetings between the two companies.

Check back later for the results of the prediction.

Re:The Amazing Karnak (3, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934521)

You must be new here, of course thats whats going to happen.

Some of us will get witty replies in, we'll probably get a couple "In Soviet America" jokes, a few flamers talking about privacy invasions and at least one sad, months-late attempt at a Rick Roll.

Re:The Amazing Karnak (4, Funny)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934613)

Some of us will get witty replies in, we'll probably get a couple "In Soviet America" jokes, a few flamers talking about privacy invasions and at least one sad, months-late attempt at a Rick Roll.

I for one welcome our new prediction toting cynical overlords.

Re:The Amazing Karnak (5, Funny)

girasquid (1234570) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935083)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of those.

Re:The Amazing Karnak (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935147)

Hey! You watch out! In Soviet Russia, Roll Ricks you! err... crap.

Re:The Amazing Karnak (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934825)

Two words, only smucks sue for billions when their product is worth thousands. They might have legitimate claims, but a billion dollars? Come on, these guys are just looking for easy money.

Re:The Amazing Karnak (5, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934987)

Two words, only smucks sue for billions when their product is worth thousands.

Two questions:
What were the "two words".
And is a "smuck" one who makes Smuckers jelly?

Re:The Amazing Karnak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23935261)

Yet we bear witness to your post, and its high moderation. Stereotypes are a fallacy.

That's plausible (3, Interesting)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934451)

I mean it only makes sense that the large company employing the best engineers in the world would risk everything to steal a product they could write in a day, right?

Re:That's plausible (1)

Pulzar (81031) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934573)

I mean it only makes sense that the large company employing the best engineers in the world would risk everything

Risk everything? How's this risking everything? Google's worth $170B, if they lose this case and have to pay $1B (unlikely that the penalty for stealing some minor software idea will be that large), they will be mighty annoyed, but that's about it. They'll have to make a press release about how they don't accept the verdict, they didn't do anything wrong, but want to put the case behind them and pay... and will move on.

Re:That's plausible (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935051)

Google is *valued* at $170 billion. What they are worth is less clear. They could certainly manage a $1 billion payout, as they are pulling in a multiple of that each quarter and they have $12 billion just sitting around, but it would do more than leave a bad taste in their mouth.

How could they? (-1, Offtopic)

gandracu (951016) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934455)

GMove is fantastic (check out a short demo here [youtube.com] ), how could Google do something like this? Do NOT stifle that kind of innovation, Google!

Re:How could they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23934553)

Strangely, that video's not entirely on topic....

Re:How could they? (1)

StellarFury (1058280) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935135)

How could they? On the contrary, how could they not copy the look and feel of gMove when it looks and feels like that?

Whats their contact information? (4, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934497)

Perhaps I should sue them for selling a product that did what the Perl script I wrote to import ten years' worth of archives into GMail did several months before the beta was even open to anyone but friends and family of people at Google.

You know, because its really a non-obvious idea.

Re:Whats their contact information? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934951)

You know, because its really a non-obvious idea.

That's not really relevant. Let's say you and I enter into a plan to open a pizza hut franchise. You do all the work setting it up, training staff, etc., while I just hang around and watch, with the plan being that after it opens I'll help with the marketing and advertising. A month before it opens I suddenly open up a competing pizza hut next door.

Opening up a pizza hut isn't a non-obvious idea, hell it's a franchise. But you still should have a legal cause of action against me.

Re:Whats their contact information? (1)

crazyjimmy (927974) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935141)

Maybe we read a different press release. In the release, it says that the product was sold for $29 for most of 2007 (and that google asked they sell it for $19). They even promoted it.

Then, in December, Google announced they would give a free copy away of a similar program to a select group. The complaint the company has is that the product seems very much like their program... almost too much like it.

I'm not saying Google is in the right (though I'm a bit suspicious of the allegations), but that your analogy is completely wrong.

--Jimmy

Re:Whats their contact information? (3, Informative)

kangman (748644) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935287)

going through the google blog search for "limitnone" i found this blog post. http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2007/11/past-present-and-future-of-email-with.html [blogspot.com] gMOVE or "MY GRATE" (horrible name) is just an implementation of the Google Email Migration API. Hence it's open for anyone to develop their own migration tools. I really doubt that the Plaintiff's complaint that Google could NOT implement their own perhaps superior product without the knowhow of limitnone's product is legitimate. As the poster tgd states it's really a "non-obvious" idea *wink wink. It sounds like a case of quasi-developers who are trying to squeeze out all the money it can from a middling products if you can call it that.

trade secrets? for moving email? (1, Insightful)

romanval (556418) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934557)

I'd like to know how much R&D effort is needed to write an email migration tool.

I'm not a programmer... but It doesn't sound like something that would justify $1B in losses.

Re:trade secrets? for moving email? (3, Funny)

unformed (225214) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934609)

I'm not a doctor but I can't see why people can't just grow back their arms when an alligator eats it off.

I mean lizards grow back tails all the time.

I don't see what the big problem is.

Please register for our new clinical trial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23934927)

I'm glad to see you understand what others find hard to grasp.

You'll be happy to hear that Dr. AC's new clinical trial for alligator arm regrowth tonic is opening soon. You can register to be one of our very first volunteer subjects at our new web site [bogusurl.org] !

Re:trade secrets? for moving email? (3, Funny)

zifn4b (1040588) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935341)

I'm sure it was a piece of cake to write. Microsoft's proprietary API's and file formats are all easy to use and designed for maximum interoperability with third-party software.

IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME! (1)

Trek1394 (970777) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934565)

"The lawsuit alleges that Googleâ(TM)s product, called âoeGoogle Email Uploaderâ steals gMoveâ(TM)s look, feel and functionality. " The last I checked, everything on Google looked the same anyway.

Re:IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23934773)

Look at your post. It's a piece of shit. You probably had to go out of your way to get all those silly-looking letters with umlauts in there, and for what? To make it look like shit. What a piece of shit. The only thing you're missing to complete the shittiness is using that annoying monospace font. Yes, yes. Then you'd really, really be cool. Shit, shit, shit, SHIT.

Re:IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23935417)

you could always be ‘constructive’, and point out the correct use of &<code>;, right?

I Love Lawyers! (1)

Illbay (700081) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934581)

They contribute so much to our free economy! Why, they make sure that business wealth is spread around as much as possible, so that nobody gets too much!


But of course they're well-compensated for their service! They spread all that money around, socking 20, 30 or 40% of it away for themselves, ensuring that the health of their own profession remains robust so that they can continue in this vital function.

Like the Dean of the Duke Law School said several years ago in an interview, when asked "aren't we getting to a critical mass of lawyers?" He responded "oh, no! If anything, we need MORE attorneys for the future! This is truly a GROWTH industry, and will be for decades to come!"

As long as you don't actually KILL the goose, ringing eggs out of it should certainly benefit all concerned.

Re:I Love Lawyers! (3, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935339)

They contribute so much to our free economy!

When I got divorced, I was damned glad I had a good lwayer. When I subsequently filed bankrupcy, again I was glad I had a good lawyer.

When my then-wife ("Evil-X" for those of you who have seen the Paxil Diaries) was hit by a city truck that ran a red light, well, her lawyer sucked but the medical bills got paid. I was glad she hired the same guy for the divorce.

When your incompetent doctor who has lost his license in seven states (but there's no way for you to know that) leaves a sponge in your gut, you are going to need a good lawyer.

I guess your idea of a "free economy" is allowing me to steal from your store.

If you have injury and disease, you're going to need doctors. If you have computers, you are going to need programers. If you are going to have engines, you are going to need engineers. If you are going to have laws, you are going to need lawyers.

BTW, IANAL.

Overture (1)

threaded (89367) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934589)

Isn't this like the Overture thing all over again?

Settlement or dismissal (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934617)

Just a hunch. Looks like Google acted like dicks here and released a free, competing product for something they'd previously partnered with LimitNone to promote (according to the article).

On the other hand, Google could pay them off easily, and if there's a contract between the companies that doesn't stipulate non-competition, well then they can eat a dick. And theft of trade secrets? For a tool that uploads Exchange stuff to gmail? Horseshit.

Sounds Bogus (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934623)

Having written many Outlook Add-Ins, exporting Outlook to almost any format would be pretty trivial.

Typical Large Company (Google's PR)? (4, Interesting)

mrpacmanjel (38218) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934739)

I have to admit if the allegations are true then Google probably has one of the best Marketing/PR departments in the world.

I've been in the IT industry for a long time and I can still remember Microsoft's public image was similar many, many years ago! (anyone remember a small company called 'Stac'?) and it's now happening again, same 'strategy' - different company!

Initially I was skeptical when I started reading the article (I know, I know I have just broken a Slashdot cardinal rule) when I read this:

"..the potential for 50 million users - was "just too big to come from someone else" and that "this is how Google operates.."

quoted from Scott McMullan, a senior executive in the Google Apps partner program

Moral of the story?

It's ok to be a 'partner' to a large company as long as your product is not *too* popular or successful.

Anyone partnering with a large company should learn lessons from this - remember a large companie's main responsibility is to it's shareholders - they are the people who want a return on thier investment and usually at any cost!

LimitNone = :'( (5, Insightful)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934753)

I find it rather ridiculous that LimitNone actually believes that an Email client migration product is such an advanced piece of software that Google with its legions of developers and mounds of cash couldn't cook one up on its own. The article cites that LimitNone claims that the 'gMove' application was a trade secret..it wasn't even patented. This is another huge whiner case. This company has a product that has a snowball's chance in hell of competing with a 'free' Google product, yet they still expect that they are somehow entitled to money for it because Google went back on its word (not contractually..just its "word").

I was sitting in on a product development meeting a few months back and the discussion came up on how to be viable in today's market. One of the big questions in online application entrepeneuring is: How can we remain viable against companies like Google?.. Companies like Google that can cook up the same product with all the same features in a fraction of the time. It seems that if LimitNone had applied some common sense to its product lines, it wouldn't run into the problem of oh, say, Google extending the functionality of one of its already existing applications. Whoops.

Trade secrets? What trade secrets? Google can't write a migration suite for its own email service? Geeze.

This is ust another case of litigation over innovation. I mean, I'm no IP law expert or anything, but a client migration tool? This could have easily have been some kind of open source project..who would LimitNone have sued then?

Re:LimitNone = :'( (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934867)

"The article cites that LimitNone claims that the 'gMove' application was a trade secret..it wasn't even patented."

Quick, anyone: Can you have a patent on a trade secret? Or a trade secret on a patent?

all the best,

drew

Re:LimitNone = :'( (2, Informative)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935245)

I find it rather ridiculous that LimitNone actually believes that an Email client migration product is such an advanced piece of software that Google with its legions of developers and mounds of cash couldn't cook one up on its own.

I didn't see anywhere in the press release where they claim that; if the press release is true, then the issue isn't whether Google couldn't cook one up on its own, but rather that they didn't--instead of that they made a deal with this company to use their product instead.

Trade secrets? What trade secrets? Google can't write a migration suite for its own email service? Geeze.

A trade secret isn't something that necessarily can't be replicated, or has to be unique, it just has to be not readily ascertainable. A typical "trade secret" would be a customer list; if I have a customer list of people who have bought my product, and you make a competing product, you can't gain access to my list through fraudulent means then use it.

This is ust another case of litigation over innovation.

No offense, but you're trying to have it both ways. It's not innovation when Google takes the idea, but when this company tries suing suddenly they're trying to squelch innovation.

I mean, I'm no IP law expert or anything, but a client migration tool? This could have easily have been some kind of open source project..who would LimitNone have sued then?

If the open source team had worked with LimitNone, agreed to help with its promotion, then turned around and released a competing version, yes, LimitNone would probably sue.

Meh (1)

Arabwel (1211118) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934757)

I am not surprised. then again, my opinion of Google has plummeted because of the unbelievable arsewaddles they employ, so.... *shrugs*

This is surreal (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934823)

So... a corporation who says 'don't be evil' is accused of doing evil and, as they're after $1B, we can only assume they're sued by Dr. Evil.

Evil? (1, Insightful)

AdrocK (107367) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934885)

So re-writing a little utility that someone is over-charging for ($29 for a one-time use tool that I don't really need?!), then giving it away for free is evil? Since when?

Stealing the look and feel, and functionality of the product is evil? So the gimp is evil too then, cause that arguably provides the same look, feel and functionality as photoshop...?

What about half the other FOSS that was made as an alternative to over-priced commercial software?

And do you honestly think that this company could have made a billion dollars in profits from this utility? I don't.

I DO think it was a bit sketchy that google worked along side them, or made them a "partner" and then reneged, but I don't think that warrants the amount of negative spin that this is getting.

Re:Evil? (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935309)

I've always wanted to say this - "Fo'Shizzle".

So, where's the NDA and NCA (3, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#23934971)

Sure, a smile and a handshake is fine if you're doing a $300 quick job with a repeat customer, but if a billion dollars is on the line there needs to be paperwork. Now, if it is reasonable to presume that there wasn't much to be made on this at the beginning, then it is also reasonable to believe the change of heart on the part of Google is based on "new" information as to the viability of the product. If there are trade secrets involved, there should (must?) be an NDA, or it's not really a trade secret. And where do consumers come in this (i.e. the consumer fraud complaint)? It sounds like the consumers are going to make out to the tune of $29 per user.

Re:So, where's the NDA and NCA (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935405)

Sure, a smile and a handshake is fine if you're doing a $300 quick job with a repeat customer, but if a billion dollars is on the line there needs to be paperwork.

I'm sure there is. What I think a lot of slashdotters don't seem to realize is a "contract" can take many forms, both written and non-written. An e-mail chain can be considered a written contract, for example, if enough information is contained in aggregate.

If there are trade secrets involved, there should (must?) be an NDA, or it's not really a trade secret.

You don't need an NDA to prove a trade secret; if you did that would basically give the green light to industrial espionage. "Judge, yes I hired burglars to break into my competitor's office and steal his papers, but as the burglars never signed an NDA these are not trade secrets."

What a half-assed press release (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23934983)

they invited us to work with them, to trust them - and then stole our technology..."Google Email Uploader" steals gMove's look, feel and functionality
So, they didn't steal technology, they developed a clone from scratch (apparently).

the other party is a small software company that built its business specifically to help Google sell its existing and future products
Right. They didn't build the business to make money, they did it to help Google.

Google did not have a workable way to enable Microsoft Outlook users to easily migrate their email (called gMail), calendar and contacts to Google's platform.
So, Outlook email is called "gMail"?

steals gMove's look, feel and functionality (1)

simplerThanPossible (1056682) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935007)

Can MS sue them, too?

We're not planning to... (1)

simplerThanPossible (1056682) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935057)

We're not planning to introduce a competing product

We're not planning to introduce a competing product

We're not planning to introduce a competing product

OK, now we're planning to introduce a competing product

Are you kidding me? (2, Insightful)

StellarFury (1058280) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935075)

I don't think that LimitNone has a case. Sure, they can claim that their migration software was a "trade secret" - but they, of their own volition, SHARED that trade secret with Google. It wasn't like Google had trenchcoat-wearing, fedora'd agents sneak into their company and copy all the source code onto flash drives and then inconspicuously sneak out the garbage chute. They asked LimitNone if they wanted to become part of a program to help with Google Apps, and as part of that program, LimitNone divulged their "trade secret." I don't see the coercion.

Suing someone else for your own stupid mistakes seems really... well, stupid. But I guess that's the name of the game these days.

Sounds like Google made their product successful (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23935077)

As with everyone else here, I have no idea what actually went on in the meetings between Google and this company. However, their lawyers description of events goes something like this:

  - Google launches service
  - Google notices small company's product complements service
  - Google aggressively promotes company's product
  - Google starts providing similar product as part of service

It sounds to me like this is a "sour grapes" lawsuit. The company likely benefited tremendously from Google's promotion of it's product, and was probably expecting Google to simply buy them out and integrate the product. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Google developed an in-house solution, making their product redundant.

To put in traditional terms, if I ran a car company, and I promoted a certain brand of GPS in my dealerships, could that GPS company sue me once I started to integrate GPS systems into my vehicles?

Now, there may be many things we don't know, but when the plaintiffs lawyer makes things sound like this, it doesn't give me a lot of confidence in the merit of this lawsuit.

Re:Sounds like Google made their product successfu (1)

Khisanth Magus (1090101) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935357)

The "for whatever reason Google made their own instead of buying the company" part probably is the fact that it probably took their programmers a few days at most to create the same tool instead of paying millions buying out another company. At most 100 man hours from some code monkeys or millions of $ to another company...hmmmm.

Better posting on CNET (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23935131)

CNET is also covering this at http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9976405-7.html [cnet.com]

It provides additional details, including: "And in May 2008, Google changed its user interface, breaking gMove compatibility and forcing the company to provide customer refunds."

captcha: nonzero (that's almost like LimitNone)

I don't get it (3, Interesting)

srowen (206154) | more than 5 years ago | (#23935199)

TFA does not say there was a "non-compete" agreement which would be crazy to agree to, since in fact this is easy to duplicate. It talks vaguely of "assurances". The CEO claims their technology was "stolen" but then the article says a competing product was released, not theirs.

Looks like they had the benefit of big-time promotion *for almost a year* before Google had anything else to show. They made quite a bit of money they wouldn't have otherwise I am sorry... sounds like someone was hoping for a payday and is just angry now.

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