Google sued over email migration tool


Google is facing legal action from a small US software company that claims the Gmail creator copied its email migration tool.

LimitNone, which specialises in developing tools to help users get more out of Google's hosted apps suite (Google Apps) and its Gmail email service, filed a complaint in an Illinois circuit court alleging that Google at first began promoting the smaller firm's tool for migrating Microsoft Outlook users to Gmail, then copied the idea and went into competition with it.

The complaint accuses the web leader of engaging in deceptive business practices that chill competition. It seeks reimbursement from Google of actual damages, attorneys' fees and calls on the court to award punitive damages to LimitNone.

Google was not immediately available to comment.

The case details LimitNone's meetings starting in March 2007 with Google to build a tool it called "gMove" for moving the email, address books and calendars of corporate customers from Outlook into Gmail. The suit alleges Google had trouble building a similar tool.

LimitNone said it entered a confidentiality deal with Google to share trade secrets of its email migration tool with Google engineers, sales people and key Google Apps customers.

Last December, the firm of less than five employees learned from Google that it planned to enter the market for LimitNone's migration product itself because the business opportunity promised to be huge, according to court papers.

Lead plaintiff's attorney David Rammelt said in a phone interview that LimitNone had been told by Google that 50 million subscribers was "just too big to come from someone else" and that a simple calculation of the lost revenue for LimitNone "very quickly gets you up to about $950 million [475 million]."

Google introduced a free, competing email migration tool called "Google Email Uploader" earlier this year, which the lawsuit alleges is "almost identical" to gMove and that "both operate under a similar conceptual design."

Following Google's decision to compete with it, Illinois-based LimitNone shifted its business to focus on the emerging market for business software designed to run on the Apple iPhone.


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