A small company called LimitNone, dealing in the development of software products, has filed a lawsuit against Google, alleging theft of trade secrets.
The suit has been filed in the Cook County Circuit Court of Illinois. LimitNone are seeking damages to the tune of $1 billion.
LimitNone has claimed that Google backed out of a partnership deal at the last minute, after having gotten access to trade secrets of a new software product that LimitNone was developing.
This product, which had been named gMove at Google’s suggestion, was made with the aim of allowing the transfer of data, such as e-mail, contacts and calendar information that has been stored on Microsoft Outlook, to Google online.
LimitNone allege that Google encouraged them to develop promote and sell the product, on the assurance that they would not go in for another product. But later they went back on their word, and developed their own tool called Google E-mail
Uploader, which was made available to customers of Google Apps, for free.
Google had earlier said that they would have almost 50 million users for gMove and with each copy priced at $19, LimitNone expected to make about $950 million, on the product. However, with Google giving away its Google Apps package for free, LimitNone has obviously been left empty-handed.
The plaintiffs say they had shared confidential technical details with Google in good faith. Without this information, Google would not have been able to solve its long standing problem of Microsoft Outlook to Gmail conversion. According to the lawsuit, “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.
The suit further claims that Google’s product was a copy of gMove in terms of functionality and look and feel, including some of gMove’s proprietary operations. After having gained access to all the requisite data, Google changed its user interface in May 2008, thus ensuring that LimitNone had to refund its customers.
In other words, according to LimitNone, Google has misappropriated LimitNone’s trade secrets, and also violated fraud laws. Google has not made any comment on the allegations.