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In a recent paid advertising deal to supply ads for Viacom giants including MTV.com, VH1.com, comedycentral.com, and 30 other web properties. Google has been left in the cold as Yahoo’s Panama platform was chosen. The deal could also expand in the future to include an additional 140 Viacom websites. Based on February’s figures, that could translate to around 90 million unique monthly visitors.

Back in March a lawsuit was launched against Google property YouTube over copyright infringement of Viacom owned television programs. Undoubtedly the lawsuit against Google was a large contributing factor in choosing Yahoo for the deal. As the next largest player in the game, with Google out, Yahoo is certainly the natural best choice.

The multi-year Search Marketing Deal was official announced Tuesday in a press release posted by Viacom.

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Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Kinderstart, Google Update

Tuesday, Matt Cutts posted a status update for the KinderStart / Google lawsuit filed by KinderStart more than a year ago. The judge in the KinderStart cases granted Google’s motion to dismiss without leave to amend.

“The instant case has been intensively litigated for more than eleven months. Under these circumstances, the Court concludes that there is no reasonable likelihood that KinderStart will cure the defects in the SAC [second amended complaint] by further amendment. Accordingly, the motion to dismiss will be granted without leave to amend.”

The judge ruled that KinderStart will be responsible for some of Google’s legal fees, a practice common with frivolous lawsuits.

Last year KinderStart accused Google of “downgrading” its search-ranking without reason or warning.

Last year they lost their case against Chinese search company Baidu.com, and this year they are at it again with a suit against Alibaba, the company which runs Yahoo China.

Plaintiffs Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and EMI have filed suit against Alibaba for the equivalent of $710,000 (RMB 5.5 million) in damages. They claim that Yahoo China is infringing on their Copyrights.

The complaint evolves around the music search at Yahoo China allowing users to find and listen to music the vast majority of which is pirated.

South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission has ordered Google to change the wording of Adsense contracts to comply with domestic fair trade law. Here is a snippet from the YONHAP News article that broke this news and handily describes some of the more crucial issues:

The FTC highlighted several clauses in the AdSense contract that violate domestic fair trade laws, of which one provision allowed Goggle to “reserve the right to refuse participation to any… participant at any time in its sole discretion.”

It also pointed towards an unfair clause, which said that “Google makes no guarantee regarding… the amount of any payment to be made.”

Concerning revenue division, FTC noted the disadvantage towards website operators, as one clause stipulates that “no other measurements or statistics of any kind shall be accepted by Google,” when calculating payments.

In addition the Korean FTC is forcing Google to switch the jurisdiction for all legal complaints from California to a location within South Korea.

How Will Google React?
The online market in South Korea is booming so there is little doubt Google will be as accommodating as possible with all of the issues raised. Still I have to wonder what will happen if they get stuck on an issue that can be chalked up to a cultural difference in conducting business. After all, how can Google guarantee payments?

Is Adsense as we know it going to prove compatible with the South Korean marketplace, or will it need a complete overhaul? I am very interested to see what happens next.

A copyright lawsuit filed by Copiepresse last year over the publishing of articles, images, and links to Belgium newspaper websites will not only see the material removed, but will also cost Google in fines M&C reported this morning.

Along with the removal order, Google also has a hefty fine to pay of $32,390 per day for every day the copyright material was posted in Google. This retroactive total could be in excess of $4.7 million.

While Google argues they are simply sending traffic to the news sites, many of these Belgium sites do charge for access to their articles and images after a certain date, where it still ends up remaining in Google’s Cache.

The date has not yet been set for Google’s appeal.

Last Friday (Sept 15 th) a Belgium court dealt a stunning blow against Google and its Google News search service. The court is now forbidding the popular search engine from indexing Belgian newspaper content without paying each newspaper for the use of their content. Read more…

Does anyone remember the hissy-fit Google threw at the beginning of this month over the default settings of Microsoft’s new web browser IE7?

To recap, Google gave Microsoft a week of headaches, going as far as complaining to the US Department of Justice over the fact that IE7 defaults to MSN search unless another search engine had been set as the user-preference before installation. Read more…

What’s in a name?

Lee Roberts makes a shopping cart, content management solution known as ApplePieCart, or more appropriately, he used to. On April 11, 2006, Lee received a note from Apple Computer’s lawyers demanding he stop using a name that might confuse consumers.

Apple Computers, which makes or sells computers, software, music and accessories, uses a red apple with a bite taken out of it as a logo, placing it along side the name of a popular fruit. ApplePieCart, which makes an ecommerce solution aimed at people who already own computers, uses a green apple leaf extending upwards at a 45-degree angle from the name of a popular American dessert item.

At the time of the serving, Apple Computers was embroiled in a trademark case against Apple Records, the record distribution label started by the Beatles. That case was recently settled, and both can use the name Apple without confusing consumers, even though both are technically in the business of music distribution. Apple records, incidentally, uses a green MacIntosh apple as its logo, not to be confused with the Macintosh Apple computer, made by the other Apple, the one that makes computers.

Since he received the letter from Apple Computer’s lawyers, Lee’s life has turned upside down.

He consulted his lawyer who told him he could fight the case for about $500,000 without a guarantee of winning. The other option would be to rename his business. Lee estimated that would cost about $200,000, give or take a small fortune.

He opted for the second choice and has since set out on the long journey of changing his business name from ApplePieCart to MerchantMetrix.

“We’re having to do a new logo and all the identity branding. We need an entire new website. We need to re-polish the software. And then, think about all of the links we have going to our website. All the name recognition, we’re losing that. What would I consider the value of this? I would say in excess of $200K. My attorneys say it will cost me $500K to defend the name, with no guarantee I would win.”

Lee has also stopped advertising his business, citing the confusion the name change and software upgrades will cause new clients. “I had WebProWorld write me to see if I would advertise with them. I haven’t responded yet but I guess they’ll know why I can’t now.” Lee said.

Lee has actually applied for the rights to the name ApplePie Shopping Cart, submitting an application to the US Patent office in June 2005. Last week he received a notice from that office saying the name had been Published for opposition on the second of May, giving “…30 days to notify the US Patent and trademark office of such issue or opposition to the registration of the trademark Applepiecart”.

“I had developed many shopping carts and my wife told me I should make one that was easy to use. She said it should be as easy as making apple pie. After finding out that it takes about 45-minutes to make an apple pie from scratch, we decided that we would call it ApplePie because it was so easy to use.”

Q. “Does it take less than 45-minutes to learn how to use it?”

A. “No, it’s easier than that. It takes about 30-minutes.”

“All of our Video Tutorials have to be redone to”, Lee added, almost as an afterthought.

A group of Canadian recording artists is calling for an end to the RIAA and SOCAN lawsuits against music fans who share digital files. Calling themselves the Canadian Music Creators Coalition (CMCC), many of Canada’s best known musicians have signed on to the petition with more expected to endorse the CMCC’s public statement.

“Until now, a group of multinational record labels has done most of the talking about what Canadian artists need out of copyright. Record companies and music publishers are not our enemies, but let’s be clear: lobbyists for major labels are looking out for their shareholders, and seldom speak for Canadian artists. Legislative proposals that would facilitate lawsuits against our fans or increase the labels’ control over the enjoyment of music are made not in our names, but on behalf of the labels’ foreign parent companies.”

The coalition includes The Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavinge, Sarah McLachlan, Sum41, Sloan, and many others.

Something interesting is happening at the Googleplex. Just a week after publicly slapping BMW for using cloaking and doorway techniques, Google has confirmed a much larger penalty it applied in 2004 against what was once one of the largest SEO firms in the world, Traffic Power. When an SEO firm gets its own site banned from Google it is somewhat interesting but not terribly newsworthy. It becomes an enormous story when that firm’s client list is banned from the index.

About eighteen months ago, Google assigned a penalty against Las Vegas based Traffic Power setting off a chain of events that continue to affect the SEO community to this day. Read more…