Lawsuit Filed By Kelley Drye & Warren LLP Alleges Google Misappropriated Trade Secrets to Grow Google Apps
CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Google misappropriated technology, developed by two entrepreneurs with whom it was working, to help it compete with Microsoft’s dominance of the business software market, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by Kelley Drye & Warren LLP. Economic damages resulting from Google’s actions are calculated to be nearly one billion dollars.
“Google claims its core philosophy is ‘Don’t be evil’ but, simply put, they invited us to work with them, to trust them – and then stole our technology”
The suit was filed on behalf of LimitNone, a Chicago-based company that had been part of the “Google Enterprise Professional Program,” a program where Google partners with independent, third-party developers to develop or enhance Google products.
“Google claims its core philosophy is ‘Don’t be evil’ but, simply put, they invited us to work with them, to trust them – and then stole our technology,” said LimitNone’s CEO, Ray Glassmann. “We had to take a stand.”
David Rammelt and Susan Greenspon of the Chicago office of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP are representing LimitNone.
“Its 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,” said Greenspon. “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 lawsuit alleges that in February, 2007 Google launched a suite of business software applications called Google Apps. The software was designed to challenge Microsoft’s Office suite of products (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) which has 500 million users. According to the lawsuit, unlike Microsoft’s products, Google Apps does not require a customer to download software onto his or her computer. Instead, Google Apps is a collection of web-based applications that reside on Google’s servers. The lawsuit alleges at the time of its launch, however, Google did not have a workable way to enable Microsoft Outlook users to easily migrate their email (called gMail), calendar and contacts to Google’s platform.
In early 2007, LimitNone developed just such a product to solve this problem and in March confidentially demonstrated the migration tool to senior members of the Google Apps team. According to the complaint, the Google Apps executives invited LimitNone to be part of the Google Enterprise Professional Program, to further develop and market the tool, and assured the company that it had no intention of developing a similar product.
The lawsuit alleges the tool, which was originally named “MY GRATE” was later renamed, at Google’s insistence, “gMove”. Though the product retailed for $29, Google asked that LimitNone sell it to Google’s customers for $19.
The lawsuit claims that throughout the remainder of 2007, Google promoted LimitNone and gMove and repeatedly told company executives that it would not develop a competing product. Google highlighted gMove on its website and introduced the company to its largest customers (including Proctor & Gamble, Intel, Orbitz, Morgan Stanley and Toys “R” Us). In addition, Google asked LimitNone to present the product to its technical sales personnel, to meet with the Google Open Source team and to continuously share updated versions of gMove.
In December, 2007, as detailed in the complaint Google told LimitNone that it would, in fact, be releasing a competing product and giving it away for free to its “Premier” customers. The lawsuit alleges that Google’s product, called “Google Email Uploader” steals gMove’s look, feel and functionality.
According to the complaint, Scott McMullan, a senior executive in the Google Apps partner program, told LimitNone that the potential for 50 million users – was “just too big to come from someone else” and that “this is how Google operates.”
The two-count lawsuit alleges that Google misappropriated trade secrets and violated Illinois’ consumer fraud laws.