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Google sued for $1 billion

A small software developer filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Google this week, claiming the Internet giant stole its technology.

A press release issued Tuesday by the law firm Kelley Drye & Warren, representing software developer LimitNone claims Google "misappropriated technology developed by two entrepreneurs with whom it was working."

LimitNone says it was invited to participate in Google's Enterprise Professional Program, through which the larger company partners with smaller software developers, to provide its MY GRATE application - which enabled Outlook users to move their email, address books and calendars to Google's Gmail - along with the launch of Google Apps in February 2007. MY GRATE, says LimitNone was renamed gMove, "at Google's insistence."

The lawsuit claims Google asked the company to sell the product for $19, rather than the $29 LimitNone envisioned, while insisting that it was not developing a competing product. According to the press release, LimitNone shared updated versions of gMove with the Google technical sales personnel and open source team.

In December of 2007, says LimitNone, Google launched a competing product called Google Email Uploader, which the company offered free to its "premier" customers. According to the announcement, the lawsuit alleges that the Google product "steals gMove's look, feel and functionality."

"Google claims its core philosophy is 'don't be evil' but, simply put, they invited us to work with them, to trust them - and then stole our technology," says LimitNone's CEO, Ray Glassmann, quoted in the press release. "We had to take a stand."

That stand apparently involves a two-count lawsuit claiming Google "misappropriated trade secrets and violated Illinois' consumer fraud laws."

The lawsuit calculates the "economic damages resulting from Google's actions" to amount to almost $1 billion, a generous-sounding estimate for an email-uploading application.

Those calculations appear to be based on remarks the complaint attributes to Scott McMullan, a senior executive in the Google Apps partner program. LimitNone claims McMullan told the company the software had the potential for 50 million users, which was "just too big to come from someone else," and that "this is how Google operates."

A Slashdot post linking the press release describes the law firm representing LimitNone, Kelley Drye & Warren, as "the same commercial litigation group which challenged Google over the company's online advertising system."

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