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Yahoo and Mozilla in the court

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Yahoo and Mozilla sue each other over Firefox Quantum's switch back to Google

Yahoo!'s complaint [PDF] was posted by Mozilla and is heavily-redacted, but the gist of it is simple: the companies had a deal, Mozilla welched, and that means Yahoo! However, Mozilla has now lodged a cross-complaint against Oath, claiming that it only seeks to exercise its rights under the 2014 contract.

That precise thing occurred just a few weeks back, as the company launched its new Quantum browser, switching back to Google in the process.

However, Mozilla claims its actions are in line with the contract that was signed at the time, which includes a clause that stipulates Yahoo must continue to make payments to Mozilla until the contract end date, even if Yahoo is no longer used as the default search engine.This problematic deal was struck by former CEO Marissa Mayer, who, in an attempt to lure Mozilla away from Google, offered the browser provider unprecedented protection in a change-of-control scenario, giving it the right to walk away from the partnership if it did not deem the new partner acceptable. Mozilla additionally changed defaults for other countries as well.

Three years ago, Mozilla had announced that Yahoo will be the default search engine on its browser Firefox in the United States.

Of course, Yahoo did not like this.

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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.

"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. It attributes this (at least in part) to Yahoo search. Following the 2016 announcement of its intent to purchase Yahoo, Verizon whittled down the price based on Yahoo's subsequent disclosure of major breaches in 2013 and 2014 that affected Yahoo's 3 billion user accounts. In the midst of the negotiations, some fine print in the Mozilla / Yahoo contract surfaced. 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.

Mozilla did not feel that Verizon was a good match and chose to scrap the deal.

Oath filed a complaint against Mozilla for what it alleged was an improper termination of the contract between Mozilla and Yahoo. The case was filed by Verizon in the Court of California on 1st of December. But according to a Mozilla statement on Tuesday , the company reviewed the deal following Yahoo's acquisition and chose to exercise its "contractual right" to terminate its agreement with Yahoo. We enter into all of our relationships with a shared goal to deliver a great user experience and further the web as an open platform.

"No relationship should end this way - litigation doesn't further any goals for the ecosystem", she said. Future proceedings should prove interesting.

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