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Baidu Awarded Compensation from Qihoo 360
2014-08-12

Online security provider Qihoo 360 was asked to pay 700,000 yuan ($110,000) in compensation for violating the fair competition protocol against search engine Baidu, a Beijing court said on Thursday. 

The Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court ruled that Qihoo 360 violated the Robots.txt protocol and ordered it to pay compensation, including 500,000 yuan in economic losses, to Baidu.

The industry's internationally recognized rule stipulates that a search engine should not acquire information that another website operator does not want used.

Baidu thought Qihoo 360 disobeyed the protocol, often picking and copying information on the search engine's website, so it appealed to the court and sought 100 million yuan in compensation.

But judges dismissed Baidu's claims other than the compensation of 700,000 yuan.

Neither company said it would appeal the ruling.

Qihoo 360 launched an online search engine in August 2012 that used content from Baidu. The company claimed the content was provided by Internet users and did not infringe on Baidu's intellectual property rights.

Qihoo 360 also said it is excluded from Baidu's list that permits websites to obtain information.

In addition, Baidu prohibited Qihoo 360 from getting information on the search engine's other programs, such as Baidu Zhidao and Baidu Baike, even though Baidu does not own these programs' copyrights, according to Qihoo 360.

Chen Jieren, a law researcher at China University of Political Science and Law, said Baidu bans only Qihoo 360 from getting information on its website, "which is also a kind of discrimination".

"It can clearly be seen that Baidu makes use of the protocol as a way to put pressure on Qihoo 360, even restrain competition from it," Chen said, which also damages the healthy development of cyberspace.

Fang Xingdong, an Internet specialist and initiator of blogchina.com, echoed Chen, saying Baidu seemed to have built a competitive barrier by not allowing others to pick up information from it.

"If so, Baidu's move has become serious, because the establishment of a website or the Internet is for the public to know more information," Fang said.

"If every website has a list that bans some other competitors' information, I don't think it helpful for the industry."

Yu Guofu, Baidu's lawyer, was glad to see the verdict and told China Daily that the more important part of the case lies in the attention to the protocol.

"The protocol in the trial was not taken as a simple contract. Instead, it was upheld as the IT industrial rule," Yu said.

"The approval of the rule's force and effect has greater significance than the 'debate' between the two companies," he added.

(Source: China Daily)

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