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Is Facebook Built on Stolen Code? Court to Decide

While Facebook continues to attract media attention – with talk of acquisition partners or an IPO – it’s haunted by a three year old law suit that claims it is built on code stolen by founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The lawsuit, filed by brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, accuses Zuckerberg, Facebook?s 23-year-old C.E.O, of stealing the source code, design, and business plan for Facebook in 2003 when he briefly worked in the Harvard dorms as a programmer for their own fledgling social-networking site, now known as ConnectU.

The plaintiffs have demanded that Facebook be shut down and that full control of the site – and its profits – be turned over to them.

Chinese Law Suit: "We just want Google to change their commercial name"

It’s not too much to ask, is it? If Google would just change the name of their company, a small Chinese business will drop their law suit. Seems fair, don’t you think? ;-)

A spokesman for Beijing Guge Science and Technology said Google’s commercial name had led to the company being constantly disturbed by people calling up its office trying to contact the search engine.

“We just want Google to change their commercial name,” Tian Yunshan, a company official, said today.

“We have already passed our demands on to Google … We will see what happens in court.”

The problem arises from the Chinese translation of Google to “Guge.” Chinese residents searching for Google’s telephone number end up calling Beijing Guge instead.

I feel bad for the company getting all of the phone calls, but worse for all the Chinese that believe Google actually offers telephone support. ;-)

Google Cracking Under Viacom Pressure?

It’s interesting to follow the Viacom lawsuit against Google. While Google’s faced many legal challenges before, it appears Viacom’s is the one that is troubling the search engine. It’s somewhat out of character to see Google CEO Eric Schmidt talk ugly about a company that is suing them – Google tends to comment via legal counsel – and it suggests the suit is a worry to him.

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, speaking with reporters at a hotel bar at the 25th annual Allen & Co. moguls meeting, said litigation was the foundation of the company that owns the MTV Networks, Paramount movies studio and video game developer Harmonix.

“Viacom is a company built from lawsuits, look at their history,” Schmidt said on early Friday.

“Look who they hired as CEO, Philippe Dauman, who was the general counsel for Viacom for 20 years,” he added.

Australian Google Grenade

The Australian competition watchdog dropped a bomb this week on the online search marketing industry. The ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) has filed an action against Google – a world first – alleging that Google have broken Trade Practice laws by using the names of certain businesses in unrelated sponsored advertisements – directing searchers who click on a particular business name to their competition.

The case specifically revolves around a local car dealer who was allegedly targeted by a large classified website the The Trading Post. The Trading Post site listed sponsored links directly naming a smaller local car dealer. …fairly straight forward.

Google Faces Legal Action from Australian Government

It’s one thing when a company decides to sue Google. Google’s typical “we believe the claims are without merit and we will defend them vigorously” statement, usually sends a strong message that the search engine will bring out the big-guns in defense.

But what happens when the lawsuit is filed by the Australian Government? All of a sudden, we can’t automatically assume Google’s going to be victorious, can we? That’s the scenario Google is facing after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – the Ozzie Government consumer watchdog – filed suit against Google for misleading and deceptive conduct in their AdWords ads.

The case also includes the company who’s ads the ACCC is challenging. Here’s an excerpt from the filing:

Google’s Gmail Faces Another Legal Blow in Germany

g-mail Good news! You probably don’t need to worry about Google pulling Gmail out of Germany due to impending privacy laws.

Bad news! Instead, it looks like Google might yank the service anyway, after losing a trademark battle over the use of the name in Germany.

The regional court in the northern city of Hamburg ruled that Google may not use the name in Germany, upholding 33-year-old businessman Daniel Giersch’s claim to have a copyright on the name for an email service he has been developing for seven years.

Mr Giersch says he has used the name “G-Mail” since 2000, four years before the US giant launched its “Gmail” product

Does Europe Have the Power to Kill the Google/DoubleClick Deal?

I must admit, international anti-trust law is not one of my strengths, so perhaps someone could explain to me how the merger of two U.S. companies could come under the rule of the European Union?

BEUC, backed by consumers in Germany, Italy and Spain, has urged the competition commissioner Neelie Kroes to investigate the deal, arguing in a letter seen by the Guardian that it “may have a negative impact on the selection of online content available to consumers and on privacy”. The US federal trade commission is already investigating on similar grounds.

If Ms Kroes finds that the deal is in breach of European regulations, she could quash the takeover or force Google to divest large parts of its business.