China's Baidu and Qihoo 360 sign pact meant to resolve dispute

Baidu last month filed a lawsuit against Qihoo 360 for alleged illegal use of its content

Chinese Internet giant Baidu and its rival Qihoo 360 signed an agreement on Thursday to compete fairly in China's search engine market, following a dispute between the two companies over search indexing.

The two companies, along with ten other Internet search providers, signed a "self-regulation pact" sponsored by the Internet Society of China, an industry trade group, which received support from Chinese government regulators for drafting the pact.

Qihoo 360's new search engine was launched in August and is now competing with Baidu's search services, which have long dominated the market with over 70 percent share.

A key section of the pact requires the Chinese Internet firms to abide by a robot exclusion protocol, a convention widely used by companies to prevent others from accessing certain parts or the entirety of a website.

Baidu alleges Qihoo 360's search engine has violated its robot exclusion protocol by indexing its Web pages, such as its encyclopedia and question-and-answer sites, without its permission.

To fight back, Baidu filed a lawsuit against Qihoo 360 last month, claiming that the company is illegally using and reproducing its content, and asking for 100 million yuan (US$15.9 million) in compensation. In its defense, Qihoo 360 has said it should be given access to Baidu's product pages, equating them to a public resource.

The pact signed by the two companies, however, is limited in scope and power. If a company is found in violation, the Internet Society of China will issue a warning and make a public condemnation in the media.

The agreement is more of a symbolic effort to tone down Baidu's dispute with Qihoo 360, which risked escalating, said Zhao Zhanling, an expert on China's information technology law.

The language in the pact does not side with Baidu or Qihoo 360 in their dispute, Zhao said. It states the Internet firms must observe the robot exclusion protocol, but also aims to ensure that the protocol is used to fairly promote the free flow of information.

"I think the pact is trying to find a balance," Zhao said. "The pact has no power backed by law, it's more about trying to get everyone on the same page."

Both Baidu and Qihoo 360 said they support the self-regulation pact.

"(It) has for the first time highlighted the critical role that the Robots protocol plays in regulating the Internet search industry, and its significance to the healthy development of the search sector," Baidu said in a statement.

Qihoo 360 said in an email, "We believe the agreement is positive for China's search market. The move will create a more open and fair competitive landscape, which will benefit the smaller guys over time."

The two companies declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags baiduintellectual propertyregulationlegalgovernmentinternetsearch engines

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?