Search engine Firefox owner Mozilla is being sued by Yahoo’s owner Oath, a subsidiary of telecom giant Verizon, over a search deal that was reached by former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
Last week, Yahoo Holdings and Oath filed a complaint against Mozilla, alleging that it improperly terminated an agreement between Mozilla and Yahoo. Now, Mozilla has filed a counter-complaint, claiming breach of contract.
Mozilla announced that it was going back to Google, which had been its longtime search provider, in mid-November in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Google remained its partner in other countries and Mozilla also has deals with Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China.
In its response to Oath’s lawsuit, Mozilla posted information online, including a long statement from Mozilla legal head Denelle Dixon:
“We recently exercised our contractual right to terminate our agreement with Yahoo based on a number of factors including doing what’s best for our brand, our effort to provide quality web search, and the broader content experience for our users.
Immediately following Yahoo’s acquisition, we undertook a lengthy, multi-month process to seek assurances from Yahoo and its acquirers with respect to those factors. When it became clear that continuing to use Yahoo as our default search provider would have a negative impact on all of the above, we exercised our contractual right to terminate the agreement and entered into an agreement with another provider.
The terms of our contract are clear and our post-termination rights under our contract with Yahoo should continue to be enforced. 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. Still, we are proud of how we conducted our business and product work throughout the relationship, how we handled the termination of the agreement, and we are confident in our legal positions.”
The switch from Google to Yahoo as the default search engine occurred with the release of Firefox Quantum in November, a faster browser arriving with an overhauled rendering engine, new multi-core support, and more efficient handling of tabs.