Mozilla Countersuing Yahoo

Alleged Breach of Contract over Default Search 

Last month, Mozilla shook up the internet search world by ending a previous deal with Yahoo. Firefox 57, dubbed Quantum, would have Google as the default search engine, with the potential to further increase Google’s estimated 77% search market share. On December 1, Yahoo Holdings and Oath filed a complaint against Mozilla for an alleged breach of contract. Four days later, Mozilla announced that it would file a counter complaint.

Mozilla unveiled Firefox Quantum about three weeks ago, to great reception. Along with numerous changes and optimizations, Mozilla announced its change of default search engine to Google. The complicated part of this is that Mozilla had signed a five year agreement with Yahoo back in 2014 making Yahoo Firefox’s default search engine.

Although users have the ability to change their default search engine at any time for all major browsers, most don’t know how, or care enough to do so. This is very important to search companies, as demonstrated by Yahoo’s five-year high search share just five months after signing the deal. Google itself was worried, as evidenced by their “Switch your default search engine to Google” messages at the top of their search results.

“This may protect Mozilla from Yahoo’s accusation, but many specifics have been redacted in the court filings.”

During negotiations over Yahoo’s sale to Verizon, a clause in the contract between Mozilla and Yahoo was found, allowing Mozilla to walk away from the deal if Mozilla was not pleased with its new partner. This may protect Mozilla from Yahoo’s accusation, but many specifics have been redacted in the court filings. Further complicating the relationship, the clause requires Yahoo’s purchasing company to pay $375 million per year to Mozilla until 2019 if Mozilla chooses to end the contract.

The upcoming court battle is definitely one to watch. Whether Mozilla can change their default search or not will affect Yahoo for years, but things look pretty good for Mozilla. After all, they got it in writing.