Microsoft tars Google with profiting off pirates

An exec accused the search company of profiting from software pirates

Rubin made his case in front of the AAP by bringing up the software angle of Google's alleged malfeasance. "Microsoft was surprised to learn recently that Google employees have actively encouraged advertisers to build advertising programs around keywords referring to pirated software, including pirated Microsoft software," he said.

Google did not return calls for comment, and a Microsoft spokesman only offered a link to the Mercury News story when asked for proof of Rubin's allegations.

"He's focusing on an 'inducement to infringe,' " said Paul Lesko, a partner at SimmonsCooper and head of the law firm's intellectual property group. " 'Actively encouraged' -- that's the key phrase in Rubin's remarks there.

"Inducement to infringe is statutory for patents, and Rubin's trying to bring that to the copyright world," said Lesko. "He's trying to use Grokster to support some of Microsoft's claims against Google."

In the 2005 Grokster decision (officially MGM Studios Inc. v. Grokster Ltd.) by the U.S. Supreme Court, the concept of induced infringement -- that Grokster specifically encouraged copyright violations by its actions and business model -- was key, Lesko said. "Grokster was a peer-to-peer case, so Microsoft is drawing analogies between it and what Google is doing now," he said.

He wouldn't comment on whether Rubin might be laying the foundation for future legal action against Google.

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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