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March 21, 2007

KinderStart Ruling Best Ever

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If you’re Google you have to be pretty pleased right now. Aside from cornering the market on those cool bouncy balls, free gourmet meals and Stanford-bred engineers, a U.S. judge just threw out a high-profile lawsuit against you and is even encouraging you to go after the plaintiff to recoup your legal fees. If you’re Google, I say you’re yelling a whole lot of huzzahs!

Yes, the ongoing and ridiculous KinderStart/Google lawsuit finally came to a close on Friday when U.S. Judge Jeremy Fogel hinted that he found the entire case as crazy as the rest of the search engine optimization community did.

For those just joining us, KinderStart filed a suit against Google last year claiming that Google "defamed" them when they downgraded the KinderStart engine in the rankings "without reason or warning". They argued that by giving their engine a PageRank of 0, Google violated anti-trust, unfair competition, free speech, and libel laws. Unfortunately for KinderStart, no one, including Fogel, seemed to agree that a loss in rankings equals defamation. (Or that KinderStart is actually a "competitor" to Google.)

Fogel’s ruling read, in part:

“While Yu has brought a novel challenge to a major corporation, it is apparent that to some extent he has overreached in doing so…Yu had a professional responsibility to refrain from filing such allegations if he did not have appropriate supporting evidence.”

That last line is the kicker! Not only was the case thrown out for being unmerited, but the judge found the whole thing so frivolous that he’s allowing Google to collect attorney fees from KinderStart. Huzzah!

This makes me very happy for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s ridiculous to drag Google into court because your inferior Web site was given the rankings and PageRank it deserves. I’m not going to link to them, but peruse the KinderStart engine when you have a chance. It is in no way a high quality site. Accusing Google of purposely trying to harm you simply because your site doesn’t rank well is ludicrous. There are millions of sites in Google’s index, including real-life competitor search engines. Google’s goal of wanting to index the world’s information aside, I really don’t think they’re losing too much sleep over you, KinderStart. You deserve not only to pay their legal fees, but you should also be charged for your gall, as well.

Something we often try to explain to clients is that, for better or worse, ranking in Google, or any of the other search engines, is a privilege, not a right. You don’t get to start in the big game simply because you showed up. You have to earn it. It goes back to the Bruce-ism that search engine optimization isn’t about making a pig fly. It’s about genetically re-engineering a site so that it becomes an eagle. Google rewards eagles; KinderStart is a mutated pig. (Please don’t sue me for defamation.) That’s why they’re not ranking well.

The other reason I was happy to read this ruling is because my hope is that it will serve to discourage frivolous suits against Google in the future. This case sets the precedent that not only will a judge throw out your case if it’s baseless, you’ll also be required to pay Google’s lawyer fees. So think twice about doing it, Belgium.





3 responses to “KinderStart Ruling Best Ever”

  1. Schuyler Haussmann writes:

    Tough luck, Lisa. The Belgian Law has no legal basis to allow a judge to order the unsuccessful party to pay the lawyer’s fee of the successful party…

  2. Lisa writes:

    Schuyler, did you just tell me tough luck? Seriously? :)

  3. Rebecca Kelley writes:

    Mmmm, mutated pig…



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