Google faces one billion dollars in damages in trade-secret lawsuit

googleLimitNone, a small software-development company, is seeking nearly $1 billion (£508m) in damages in a lawsuit that accuses Google of reneging on a partnership with the company and misappropriating its trade secrets for the Google Apps online service.

Specifically, the suit concerns LimitNone software called gMove that is designed to let people move email, contacts and calendar information stored in Microsoft Outlook to Google’s online service.

The lawsuit states Google initially helped LimitNone develop, promote and sell the product, assuring LimitNone that it wouldn’t offer a competing product, but then reversed course by giving away its own tool, Google Email Uploader, to premier-level Google Apps customers.

“With gMove priced at $19 per copy and Google’s prediction that there were potentially 50 million users, Google deprived LimitNone of a $950m opportunity by offering Google’s competitive product for free as a part of its ‘premier’ Google Apps package,” the lawsuit, filed on Monday in Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois, states.

Source: ZDNet News

LimitNone had shared confidential technical and sales-forecast details with Google, the lawsuit said.

“Without Google’s knowledge and use of the gMove trade secrets and confidential information, Google would not have been able to solve its long-standing Microsoft Outlook-to-Gmail conversion problem,” the lawsuit said. “At a minimum, Google’s access to the internal workings of gMove allowed it to gain a significant head start on designing the inner workings for a competing application.”

Google’s product “copied gMove’s look, feel, functionality and distribution model, including several unique and proprietary operations”, the suit claims. The suit adds that, in May 2008, Google changed its user interface, breaking gMove compatibility and forcing the company to provide customer refunds.

The complaint alleges Google misappropriated trade secrets from LimitNone and violated fraud law by inducing LimitNone to share confidential information that Google used to develop its competing product.

Google did not immediately comment for this story.