Deals with search providers are big money-spinner for Mozilla, bringing in around US$300m a year and contributing around ninety per cent of the foundation's revenue. The case was filed by Verizon in the Court of California on 1st of December.
In mid-November, Mozilla announced it was switching back to Google as its search provider in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Under the terms of the contract, which were revealed during Yahoo's sale process previous year, the party that would acquire Yahoo would have to pay Mozilla $375 million annually through 2019.
"Its complaint says", The payments owed by Yahoo are key to financing Mozilla's efforts to launch the new version of its flagship product, Firefox".
"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", the company explained in a blog post yesterday.
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Mozilla has, however, defended the move claiming that it has the right to terminate the contract and take decisions that are best in the brand's interest and help it in improving the services for its users. Verizon isn't renowned for its commitment to search, and it doesn't seem like the most natural of bed partners for Firefox, so it seems as though this was the reason why Mozilla pulled the plug on its Yahoo search deal.
The terms of our contract are clear and our post-termination rights under our contract with Yahoo should continue to be enforced.
Mozilla also voiced concerns over Verizon's ability to protect user privacy, citing the company's $7.4 million settlement with the FCC in 2014 for using customers' personal data for marketing purposes without their consent. 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.
Denelle Dixon, Mozilla's chief business and legal officer, stated that while much of the countersuit is confidential, they would be creating "a wiki page with links to relevant public court documents - over time we expect to add more content as it becomes public".
"Rather than focus on improving the quality of its search product, as Yahoo assured Mozilla it would prior to entering into the deal, Yahoo continually focused on short-term monetization and special events such as the Olympics and the election, at the expense of product quality", Mozilla alleges. 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.