Mozilla and Yahoo! trade sueballs over Firefox-Google search deal

Mozilla and Yahoo! trade sueballs over Firefox-Google search deal

Back in 2014 Mozilla and Yahoo struck a deal that would see Yahoo act as the default search engine in Firefox through 2019.

Mozilla and Yahoo will soon face the courts after Yahoo was replaced the default search engine of Firefox. However, Mozilla has pulled the plug on the deal ahead of schedule, claiming that it was not getting paid. Mozilla has now filed a countersuit, claiming breach of contract.

The new owner of Yahoo, Oath, which happens to be owned by Verizon, is now fighting with Mozilla over a badly crafted search deal made by former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

On December 1, Yahoo Holdings and Oath filed a legal complaint against Mozilla in Santa Clara County court claiming that we improperly terminated our agreement.

Mozilla also says that Yahoo wanted to use "alternative branding" in order to prevent consumers from switching to other search engines. However, it seems that there were some terms in the deal that gave Mozilla the right to walk away.

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In yesterday's counter-complaint, Mozilla explains that it took another long look at the deal post-Verizon acquisition and was no longer in love with its choice of Yahoo as the default engine. Under the terms of the contract, which were revealed during Yahoo's sale process a year ago, the party that would acquire Yahoo would have to pay Mozilla $375 million annually through 2019. That is, the browser would use Yahoo as its default search engine. Yahoo detailed how the foundation breached their agreement, although these reasons were redacted from the copy of the lawsuit released to the public. 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.

KitGuru Says: From the sounds of it, Yahoo agreed to a pretty bad deal with some unfavorable clauses when it comes to new ownership. That could work out at around $750 million, plus however much Mozilla is earning from Google as its new search partner. As early as January 2015, Mozilla began discussions with Yahoo on the shortcomings of the quality of the search product.

Mozilla said it exercised its contractual right to terminate its agreement with Yahoo, based on a number of factors.

Mozilla stated that it studied how Yahoo might affect Firefox's web search and the user experience. The buyer must do this even if they did not want to work with Mozilla. In addition, $375 million is a massive amount of money, even for Verizon's stature.

"Immediately following Yahoo's acquisition, we undertook a lengthy, multi-month process to seek assurances from Yahoo and its acquirers with respect to those factors", the company explained in a blog post yesterday. We enter into all of our relationships with a shared goal to deliver a great user experience and further the web as an open platform.

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