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Thursday, 26 June 2008 20:06

Don't Be Evil Google sued for a billion over IP theft charges

A Chicago start-up business has filed a $1 Billion lawsuit against Google. LimitNone accuses the search giant of stealing its migration tool technology.

It has a well known corporate philosophy of Don't Be Evil, yet Google stands accused of doing just that. LimitNone, the Chicago based development software developers who have filed the lawsuit, maintains that Google misappropriated the technology it was working on with them.

LimitNone had been working as part of the Google Enterprise Professional Program (GEPP) in order to help counter the dominance of Microsoft in the business email market. The program allows third party developers to partner with Google to develop solutions together.

In February 2007 when Google launched the Google Apps suite it was missing an easy way to migrate from Microsoft Outlook to the new application platform. It needed a solution to enable businesses to get their email, calendar and contacts data into Google Apps.

LimitNone had developed just such a tool, and went to Google in March to demo the technology. The lawsuit suggests that Google Apps executives then invited LimitNone to join GEPP in order to progress that development and share the marketing.

Importantly, according to the LimitNone lawsuit version of events, Google also made assurances that it was not itself planning on developing any similar product.

So it was that the tool in question called MY GRATE (migrate, get it, very funny) became part of the program as it were. The name was changed to gMove, LimitNone say at Google's insistence, and the price reduced from AUD $60 to AUD $40.

All went well, it would seem, with LimitNone getting introductions to some big Google clients such as Intel, Morgan Stanley and Toys 'R' Us. All went well until December 2007 when, LimitNone insist, they were told by Google it was releasing a competing product called Google Email Uploader.

If that were not bad enough in the Do No Evil stakes, Google were to be giving it away free to premier customers.

The LimitNone lawsuit alleges that Google Email Uploader steals the look, feel and functionality of gMove.


The complaint further suggests that a senior executive in the Google Apps partner program at the time, Scott McMullan, told LimitNone that the application had the potential to accrue 50 million users and this was something that was "just too big to come from someone else.”

Ray Glassman, CEO of LimitNone, says that far from not being evil Google "invited us to work with them, to trust them – and then stole our technology.”

The lawyers representing LimitNone, David Rammelt and Susan Greenspon of the Chicago office of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, told Businesswire that "It's shocking that Google would engage in this type of conduct; particularly when the other party is a small software company that built its business specifically to help Google sell its existing and future products. People need to realize that Google is just another large publicly traded corporation that will do whatever it takes to increase its revenue, even if that means risking its reputation among developers.”

The payoff for the lawsuit is a compensation claim for some US $950 million (AUD $991 million) to cover the lost revenue.


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