Mozilla, Yahoo Sue Each Other Over Firefox's Default Search


While Mozilla emphasizes that the decision to replace Yahoo with Google was exclusively taken to improve the customer experience with the new version of the web browser, Yahoo has knocked the court's door with the hope of saving its limited customer base through the web browser. Yahoo search market share is roughly 12 percent to Google's 63 percent.

The two companies are now suing each other over a 2014 deal that made Yahoo Firefox's default search provider. As the news of takeover emerged into the market, the agreement between Yahoo and Mozilla explicitly stated that the acquiring company would pay Mozilla $375 million per year through 2019 if Mozilla wasn't satisfied with the new owners of Yahoo.

Not a bad deal for Mozilla, especially when one considers this little gem: Yahoo (or whoever owns Yahoo) is obligated to continue payments, even if Mozilla were to, say, drop the search engine as its default. The legal battle picked up last week as Yahoo Holdings and Oath filed a complaint against Mozilla.

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On Tuesday, Mozilla detailed the decision in a blog post, saying it spent months studying how the new Verizon-owned Yahoo might affect Firefox's web search, the user experience, and the brand.

"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", Mozilla alleges.

Oath filed a complaint against Mozilla for what it alleged was an improper termination of the contract between Mozilla and Yahoo. The search company further claims that Mozilla's actions significantly damaged its reputation and business.

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Mozilla had switched to Yahoo from Google when Mayer offered a beneficial deal that provided unparalleled terms protecting Mozilla in case there was a change-in-power at Yahoo.

Deals with search providers are big money-spinner for Mozilla, bringing in around US$300m a year and contributing around ninety per cent of the foundation's revenue. "Yahoo Acquirer's leadership provided no vision, no structured, documented and vetted strategic path forward, and no assurances as to a commitment of the resources necessary to improve Yahoo Search such that it would meet" and then some more redaction cuts in.

Mozilla also voiced concerns over Verizon's ability to protect user privacy, citing the company's $7.4 million settlement with the FCC in 2014 for using customers' personal data for marketing purposes without their consent.

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Oath, a Verizon subsidiary which controls Yahoo, has not yet commented on Mozilla's counter-claim. "Verizon's policy positions are also diametrically opposed to Mozilla's positions on core issues such as net neutrality and cybersecurity", Mozilla states.