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Google to Start-ups: “We’ll show you ours, if you let us steal yours”


If LimitNone LLC wins the lawsuit it just filed against Google, it could send a warning signal to other start-ups: don’t show Google your wares, because it will steal your technology out from under you.

That’s effectively what LimitNone is saying, with its lawsuit alleging Google stole its system for migrating Microsoft Outlook customers to Gmail.

The case details LimitNone’s meetings starting in March 2007 with Google to build a tool it called "gMove" for moving the e-mail, address books and calendars of corporate customers from Microsoft Corp’s Outlook into Gmail. The suit alleges Google had trouble building a similar tool.

LimitNone said it entered a confidentiality deal with Google to share trade secrets of its e-mail migration tool with Google engineers, sales people and key Google Apps customers.

Last December, the firm of less than five employees learned from Google that it planned to enter the market for LimitNone’s migration product itself because the business opportunity promised to be huge, according to court papers.

LimitNone calculates its lost revenue at $950 million. Thus far, Google’s keeping quiet–so we don’t know its side of the story.

The tough part will be convincing a judge that Google’s own "Email Uploader" is a direct rip-off of LimitNone’s solution–I mean, how proprietary can it be to move contacts from Outlook to Gmail?

Still, LimitNone’s lead attorney is the same guy who represented American Blinds trademark case–which was dropped when the company could no longer afford legal fees–so we know he’s not afraid to keep attacking Google until his client runs out of money! ;-)

  • http://www.otlacan.com Otilia Otlacan

    I wonder how the lost revenue was determined? At a quick glance it looks like they planned on charging $19 for the service. Does anyone have more input here?

    Otilia Otlacan’s last blog post..Google to Unveil AdPlanner Today

  • Levi Wardell

    This reminds me of the movie AntiTrust.

    I know that one was based off Microsoft, but it was the same ordeal. Next we’re going to hear about server rooms in the day care center. dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn.

    Cheers,

    @trontastic

  • http://www.propdata.co.za/ Robert

    Java vs JS? The big guys have always stolen from the little guys… because they can!

    Guess Google are starting to feel the pinch of everyone having a go at them now. Wonder if Bill Gates will be sending sympathy cards?

  • http://seologia.com.ar Seologia

    This is outrageous! I will tell all my marketing contacts right away!… psst! Hey, Andy, can I borrow your trackur database so I can see some e-mail addresses? :P

    Seologia’s last blog post..¡Los presis con Facebook!

  • http://www.greatpriceshere.com Nicole Price

    This smacks of ambulance chasing! I find it extremely difficult to believe the plaintiff’s story.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Home Decor (Part II)

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @seologia – er, no! :-P

    @Nicole – you could be right. I predict a long case that racks up lots of legal fees for the attorney. ;-)

  • http://promote-my-site.com Don Draper

    Nicole – I don’t think it’s necessarily ambulance chasing. Doing “due diligence” on a small company while discussing their acquisition is the oldest trick in the book. Send in your engineers to see how it works, then let the deal fall apart and build the tool. Anyone else here remember Microsoft and Stacker?

    Usually the big company can afford to just hold off the lawsuit until the little company runs out of cash to pursue it. Or the little company gets bought as part of a settlement at a much lower amount.

    But frankly I don’t see what’s so hard about migrating from Outlook to Gmail. Seems like a pretty straightfoward piece of code to write. So why was Google even talking to them in the first place?

    Don Draper’s last blog post..How and Why to Blast your Posts onto a Huge Number of Social Networks

  • http://www.plumbersurplus.com/blog Ryan Douglas

    This is an extremely interesting story to emerge. We had been using gMove in the office, testing the feasibility to switch our organization over to Google Apps. We purchased some licenses to use the product by LimitNone on machines, as there were no other solutions available at the time (10/2007). It was disappointing that Google had not yet developed the ability to migrate mail. Now using IMAP it seems rather easy. I checked the Google Code site http://code.google.com/p/google-email-uploader/downloads/list but did not find any downloads available…

  • http://www.mbwebdesign.co.uk MB Web Design

    I really can’t understand why this would have been something for Google to outsource, given they’ve got some of the industry’s brightest minds.

  • http://www.deemx.com DeeMX

    Google play in very agressive game. Who will be a winner in the future: Google or Microsoft?

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