The legal battle between Mozilla and Oath, new parent company of Yahoo has heating up. Now it looks like Mozilla will be heading to court to kick back Yahoo Holdings and Oath over the alleged breach of contract.
Yahoo’s new parent Oath filed a complaint against Mozilla in a California court on December 1, alleging a breach of contract. Now Mozilla has filed a counter complaint, with the Superior Court stating that the switch back was in line with a deal struck between the two companies.
This switch is not as small as it appears. With Firefox Quantum’s release, Mozilla had set aside its deal with Yahoo that it made in 2014, to make it the default search engine provider for users in US, with others as options. The deal was made at $375 million a year.
Details of the deal were only made public last year, as CEO Marissa Mayer’s time at the company came under the microscope while it prepared to sell itself to Verizon. For its many faults, the Verizon deal went through, of course, forming Oath in the process. Along with it, Verizon inherited an annual payment of $375 million through 2019.
Though users can switch their default search engine manually, having a search engine featured by default on a major browser like Firefox has a sizeable impact — five months after the Mozilla / Yahoo deal was inked, Yahoo said that its search volume reached a five-year high.
Oath has not yet issued an official response to Mozilla’s official response.
Here’s Mozilla’s official statement in full:
On December 1, Yahoo Holdings and Oath filed a legal complaint against Mozilla in Santa Clara County court claiming that we improperly terminated our agreement. On December 5, Mozilla filed a cross-complaint seeking to ensure that our rights under our contract with Yahoo are enforced.
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.
We remain focused on the recent launch of Firefox Quantum and our commitment to protecting the internet as a global public resource, especially at a time when user rights like net neutrality and privacy are under attack.