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Google Antitrust Suit May Go Forward 151

TechForensics writes "KinderStart, whose page hits and AdSense revenue dropped sharply after changes by Google demoted its appearance in search results, brought suit claiming the search engine effectively suppressed its first amendment rights by lowering the site's visibility. While the Court rejected that argument out-of-hand, it appeared more amenable to KinderStart's argument that since it was a search page, Google's suppression of a rival search engine is prohibited by antitrust laws. The suit may go forward with the judge's commentary."
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Google Antitrust Suit May Go Forward

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  • "Do No Evil" (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 01, 2006 @05:42PM (#15643618)
    See no results, hear no complaints.
  • I call Bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by netkid91 ( 915818 ) * <netkid91@gmail.com> on Saturday July 01, 2006 @05:45PM (#15643626) Journal
    I think that this whole case is a load of shit. Honestly, I think Google has the fairest ranking system for it's results, compared to MSN or Yahoo! especially. The only reason "KinderStart's" 'ranking' would be decreased, is if less sites linked to it. Well, is their engine really 'all that' if so many less sites linked to them this month, that their Google PageRank value decreased?
    • by KarmaMB84 ( 743001 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @05:59PM (#15643667)
      The suit alleges that Google fiddled with their ranking. While it does seem unlikely that they could be competition for Google when their traffic RELIES on Google, a court might not take kindly to the #1 search engine intentionally neutering another search engine's ranking without damn good reason.
      • Re:I call Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

        by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:08PM (#15643702) Homepage Journal
        The site tried to claim before that they were a content site and that google unfairly removed them from the results.
        However it appeared to everyone with eyes that this site was just a crappy linkfarm/google optimising pile of crap with no reasonable content of its own (it did however appear to use a derivative of slashcode for some of its pages).

        Now they are crying that they were a search engine, they are just tosspots crying because google stopped their shit (it was all removed when google refreshed their rules about valid sites and removed thousands of crap from their results).
    • by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) * on Saturday July 01, 2006 @08:22PM (#15644002)
      Is this the time to say that monopolies have to follow a different set of rules. It is, after all, a very popular notion on Slashdot.

      Actually, I don't think Google has reached the monopoly level yet, but it will be interesting to see if Slashdotters are consistent about their opinions when the monopoly isn't MS.

      On the hand, just as MS could only qualify as a monopoly when the market in question was artifically restricted to desktop OS's, you could certainly make the case that Google has a monopoly on web searches performed by companies starting with the letter 'G';
      • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @08:52PM (#15644078) Homepage
        I don't think Google could become a monopoly, or at least not in the way that Microsoft is. Until they buy out MSN search - the default search engine on 100% of the copies of IE, which is the default browser for probably 80% of the computers in the world, and isn't replaced on about 85% of those - they remain an easily-changable default search option on an optional browser which has just over 10% of the Windows market share (if that). The fact that something like 80% of the people use Google despite that shows that they've put together a quality product (let's face it - MSN search users do so because it's a) default on IE or b) three letters shorter than google). As for the advertising bit, where they actually make money, again there's no forcing people to use Adwords, though it remains a highly logical choice considering how many people use Google and how many site owners have Adsense space on their pages.

        Once Google comes preinstalled as a not-easily-changable default search engine for the default browser for your only choice of an OS when buying a prebuilt PC, I'll consider them a monopoly. To this point, they've gained their market share through people's own choices, rather than by forcing themselves upon the masses as Microsoft has done.

      • by Millenniumman ( 924859 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @09:55PM (#15644230)
        It is my belief that monopolies should not be regulated unless they are inevitable(some utilities). If everyone chooses to buy Windows/use 10^100 how is it Microsoft/10^100 's fault? People, not governments, can regulate the companies with freedom of association.
        • Well, the issue here is the bulk power of a monoploly. When there was a comparible product to microsoft windows 10/100, microsoft used this power in some ways that forced the other guys from the plate. But even though we are talking about microsoft here, this reaches futher from them.

          Originaly, the standard oil company said if you are going to sell this, you need to sell this too. At some times they said if your going to sell this, you cannot sell that. What ended up hapening is that everyone was using thier gasoline and engines oilor lubricants by choice because there was no "real" other choice. The stores who bucked thier orders found them selves in a situation were the supply chain was borked and they ended up selling nothing related to that industry. At this time, there weren't any laws pertaining to this either.

          We have seen this happen in other situations when companies become large and control the supply chains. They sometimes hold pattents or copyrights Or hold influence over those that control it on certain items needed to compete with them and sell to thier own company far cheaper then the competition. When this happens, you end up with company X selling a product below the production costs of competing company Y or company X is forcing copany Y's margin so low that it isn't profitable for them to continue to compete. We seen this recently(last 20 years or so) with foriegn steel and lumber were a government covers part of the production price and imported steel and lumber became cheaper then demesticly produced. (enough that some mills were forced to shut down)

          Microsoft did stuff simular to this. They were accussed or breaking applications, forcing distributers to only use thier software (by jacking prices up for those who didn't), forcing OEMs to display certain materials promoting thier software instead of the OEMs or some one elses and bundling products that they used to sell seperatley in order to maintian sales in other areas among other things. Interestingly enough, most of this behavior isn't illegal by default if negotiated through a regular contract proceedure. The problems microsoft face(d)(or some of them) might have been avoided if they allowed these same negotiations and discounts to everyone wishing resell thier software and left the bundling to internet downloads or included them on a seperate instalation routine that the end user would have chosen to do. But that might not have gave them the position they enjoy today wich is why it is neccesary to watch them.

          Monopolies aren't regulated differently by default. All the laws pertaining to them are usualy the same laws any other company needs to adhear too. The difference is that monopolies usualy are the only companies big enough to trip some of the and anticompetitive clauses in the anti trust laws. It is definatly possible to violate these laws without even being close to a monopoly. After a company is convicted of violating one of these laws, special regulatory processes can be administered to ensure it isn't harming the public or competition. Google isn't a monopoly by most standards. They can be in violation of the laws usualy associated with a monopoly though. They also can be subjected to one of these regulatory situation without ever becoming a monopoly. Usualy though, the closer to a monopoly a company becomes, the easier it is to break one of these laws. Or at least that how i understand them to be in the US.
    • by Frankie70 ( 803801 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @04:31AM (#15645062)
      Check Search results for the word "KinderStart" in
      google [google.com], MSN [msn.co.in] & Yahoo [yahoo.com].

      On both MSN & Yahoo, it's the first hit. One Google it's nowhere on Page1.

      Pure Evil.
    • by I'm Don Giovanni ( 598558 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @06:56PM (#15647429)
      "I think that this whole case is a load of shit. Honestly, I think Google has the fairest ranking system for it's results, compared to MSN or Yahoo! especially."

      Oh, please...
      You have no metric on which to base such a claim, you're only saying it because you're a Google fan.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @05:46PM (#15643631)
    might be dependent upon whether or not Google treated this outfit any differently than the hundreds of millions of other sites out there. If Google changed the rules but applied them to everyone, this is just a case of sour grapes. If Google deliberately shafted what I'm loosely terming "competition" I suppose it would be different, but it sounds like KinderStart just wants to get their rankings back to where they would like them to be and want the court to force Google to do it. I dunno ... like somebody else mentioned the last time this story appeared on Slashdot, if your business model is entirely dependent upon Pagerank then you're putting all your eggs into one very capricious basket.
    • by Red Alastor ( 742410 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:05PM (#15643688)
      The reason their results dropped might be because they launched with hype and PR and people linked to them. Now that people lost interest, PageRank drops.

      What's funny is that this lawsuit might make their PageRank increase temporarily once again :)

    • by Serapth ( 643581 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @07:04PM (#15643829)
      Funny thing is, it just doesnt matter. KinderStart has probrably already succeeded at raising their google rank purely by launching this lawsuit.

      Frankly, I had never heard of them before hand and generally dont go to a search engine to search for search engines. As a result of the press this will generate, more people will google "KinderStart" and thus increase both their traffic and google rank.

      Kinda a sad abuse of the legal system, but in the end even if they lose they may win.
      • by The Ultimate Fartkno ( 756456 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @07:24PM (#15643865)
        ...and after people go there and spend five minutes, they'll see exactly what I did. Namely, that Kinderstart is just another generic link site full of SEO craplinks, half of which are either broken or go to squatter sites because the domains have expired. The sad part is that Kinderstart is (at least in theory) aimed at child development and the links that do work generally lead to *really* crappy sites like "Auburn Birth Works® & HypnoBirthing®."

        Yeesh... Google couldn't have shitcanned that site quickly enough.
      • by Millenniumman ( 924859 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @10:03PM (#15644249)
        KinderStart should have to pay everything for this suit. They also need have the words "Google's search engine is Google's to do with what they like." branded into their foreheads.
      • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @08:02PM (#15647575)
        Kinda a sad abuse of the legal system, but in the end even if they lose they may win.

        Not really ... Pageranks are a dynamic phenomenon, and while the notoriety they're generating may give them a bunch more hits, if they don't actually have anything people are interested in, nobody will return and the rankings will drop again. Which is pretty much what already happened, and because they've discovered that there are just not enough people legitimately interested in what they have to offer, they've resorted to legal shenanigans.
    • by reporter ( 666905 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @10:19PM (#15644283) Homepage
      In the market for food, Safeway provides shelf space to food producers: Kraft, Coca-Cola, etc. Without shelf space at a major supermarket, a food producer could, theoretically, sell food but would face insurmountable problems in growing sales. If a customer at Safeway did know whether a particular brand of food exists, then there is no way for her to buy the brand. For all practical purposes, the food producer cannot sell its product even though, in theory, the producer is free to sell. "Forbes" provides a good analysis of the shelf-space issue and the anti-trust implications [forbes.com].

      In the market for online products and services, Google provides shelf space by returning links to the sellers (of such products and services) in the Google web page of search results. The analogy between shelf space at Google and shelf space at Safeway is quite strong, and anti-trust laws apply in both cases.

      How does Kinderstart fit into this picture? Well, first, consider the case of shelf space at Safeway. Kroger is a direct competitor of Safeway. Both Safeway and Kroger produce their own in-house-branded versions of many foods. For example, Kroger sells Kroger-branded frozen vegetables, and Safeway also sells Safeway-branded frozen vegetables. Should Safeway be expected to give shelf space to Kroger-branded frozen vegetables? Can Kroger's president claim anti-trust violations if Safeway refuses shelf space to Kroger. The answer is "no". Kroger and Safeway are direct competitors, and Safeway cannot be expected to help a direct competitor.

      As for Kinderstart, it is a direct competitor of Google. Google is a general search engine that handles all searches in the known universe. Kinderstart deals with only a subset (of that universe): search results dealing with only parenting. Since Google and Kinderstart are direct competitors, we cannot expect Google to help a direct competitor. Google's management is well within its right to even remove Kinderstart from all of Google's search results (i.e. Google's shelf space).

      By the way, Google now owns more than 60% of the market for search queries, and Google's marketshare is growing. Google has now entered monopoly territory, and we must keep a watchful eye over Google. Google is fully capable of evil (like catering to Beijing in censoring search results). However, in this particular case involving Kinderstart, Google has not done any evil -- yet.

    • by Frodo Crockett ( 861942 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @10:44PM (#15644329)
      ...by modding this post up.

      Kinderstart is a miserable failure [kinderstart.com]! ;)

      (No, this is not karma whoring. Unless, of course, Taco added a new level above 'excellent'. Think what what would happen if we had a link like this to Kinderstart at the top of every /. comment page...)
  • Meh, not improtant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @05:48PM (#15643637) Journal
    I wouldn't be worried -- it won't go very far. Too many people like Google, and that actually matters. Less importantly, it's a silly lawsuit.

    At the same time, I wouldn't consider Google stock a good bet. They make all their real money through advertising, of which some significant fraction is fraud. They are desperately groping around for some other way to make money, but none has shown up yet, despite their having snapped up every bright mind in the tech industry for the last couple years. Google knows as well as anybody that as soon as they start trying to make money by charging for all their free services, there will be an instant public relations backlash. There is nothing that the public hates more than having to pay for something that used to be free. When Google starts cashing in on everything they've built, they a) still won't make more money from it than from search, which is probably tapped out, and b) they will become more hated than AOL.
    • by moochfish ( 822730 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:05PM (#15643691)
      google being liked has nothing to do with whether or not a judge rules against them.
    • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:50PM (#15643804)
      I wouldn't be worried -- it won't go very far. Too many people like Google, and that actually matters.

      This isn't American Idol.

      You'd be surprised how few people outside of the hothouse environment of Slashdot have a substantial emotional investment in Google.

      Not that it matters much, really: Judges are appointed for life to insulate them from popular pressure.

    • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @07:53PM (#15643925)
      Too many people like Google

      Too many people where? On Slashdot? Get around a bit more and you'll find Google holds no special place in the hearts and minds of those the slashdot elite would derisively term "Joe Sixpacks." And -- Gosh, I hope this is not a NewsFlash -- it's Joe and his friends, not the Digerati (and underage Digerati wannabes) who actually make things "go," including the justice system.

      Of course, by the time that they "become more hated than AOL," they will have amassed a database of all the names, addresses, credit card numbers, purchases, online searches, library check-outs, pizza topping preferences, mistresses, school grades, medical records, phone calls, ATM withdrawls, instant messages, investments, e-mails, mattress firmness, and masturbatory fantasies of every man, woman and child in the Free World. Oh, yeah, and in China too. Then they just change their motto from "Do No Evil" to "Psyche!!" and sell it to the highest corporate bidder and/or government for 987 Gazillion Billion dollars.

      Keep telling yourself it could never happen: "Not Our Google! Not our Beloved Google!"
  • by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @05:48PM (#15643640) Journal
    Was this a deliberate act or can they just not accept that they have less importance in the eyes of the google web crawler/indexer. I believe google uses a "vote" system where every link counts as a vote... as far as I am aware no human is directly involved with this so unless google was being malicious the case should have no grounds.
  • well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by awing0 ( 545366 ) <adam@NOSPaM.badtech.org> on Saturday July 01, 2006 @05:51PM (#15643650) Homepage
    I'm sure if you set up a hamburger stand in Burger King's parking lot they would surely have you removed. They are trying to build their business of a search engine on the back of Google's. No one forces Google down your throat, it just happens to be the #1 search engine. Google's ranking is its "parking lot", a property of Google. Every scumbag website loves to cry when Google delists their deserving ass. Even if you didn't deserve it, it is their search ranking. KinderStart should focus on Yahoo or MSN and watch when they do the same thing as Google. If KinderStart.com had better content, it would rise on its own. Digg or Slashdot didn't jump into the top 10 of sites on the web because of Google, it did it with good content and the search results came after.
    • by Lead Butthead ( 321013 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @07:13PM (#15643848) Journal
      I'm sure if you set up a hamburger stand in Burger King's parking lot they would surely have you removed.
      Apples and oranges. Setting up a hamburger stand in BK's parking lot is tresspassing on BK's private property. That is no different than your neighbor across the street holding a garage sale on your drive way.
      • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @09:24PM (#15644171)
        I think the GP was trying to point out that if you are building your business by capitalizing on the success of another, similar business, expect that to be a very short ride. In this case, however, I find it hard to believe that anyone at Google was even aware of KinderStart until the legal summons was served. It's not like an outfit like KinderStart is even going to be on Google's threat radar, much less worth the risk of an antitrust lawsuit.
    • by I'm Don Giovanni ( 598558 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @07:09PM (#15647463)
      "KinderStart should focus on Yahoo or MSN and watch when they do the same thing as Google."

      The problem is that Yahoo and MSN aren't monopolies, while Google might be (the court will decide this). Just as other OSes can bundle all sorts of software without anyone batting an eye, everyone throws a hissy fit if Microsoft bundles anything. Arguably, Microsoft should be able to bundle just as much as other OSes, but since they have a monopoly in that market, they can't. Similarly, one could argue, as you have, that Google should be able to act exactly as Yahoo and MSN do wrt KinderStart, but since Google may have a monopoly (yet to be decided by the court), they might not be able to.
  • Kinderstart (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bongo Bill ( 853669 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @05:56PM (#15643658) Homepage
    What is KinderStart anyway? I searched for it [google.com], and it seems that there are plenty of results completely unrelated to the plaintiff. Why wouldn't KinderStart be suing them? I find it rather implausible that Google would suppress a search engine that does not pose a real threat, given that the results for the similar pages [google.com] link on a search for "Google" prominently displays so many of their strongest competitors.

    And never mind that Google, being a private enterprise, can present its results any way it wants (assuming that the claims are accurate), so that there's no grounds for a lawsuit. This whole incident smells frivolous.

    • Re:Kinderstart (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <slas45dxsvadiv.v ... m ['x.c' in gap]> on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:11PM (#15643713) Homepage

      One thing should get this thrown out of court. Tada [google.com]. Google UK is fourth, after frickin Altavista of all places, and real Google is fifth. Then MSN Search and Yahoo.

      If Google were going to, nonsensically, manipulate the search rankings for itself, surely it would not have actual competitors, not little guys that no one has heard off, on its first result page. (In fact, putting little guys up there would be the best bet. Put up the crappiest engines no one's ever heard of when people people look for alternatives, and no one will leave.)

    • Re:Kinderstart (Score:4, Informative)

      by BrynM ( 217883 ) * on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:15PM (#15643724) Homepage Journal
      What is KinderStart anyway? I searched for it, and it seems that there are plenty of results completely unrelated to the plaintiff.
      The real proof in the pudding is how other engines handle it. MSN [msn.com], Yahoo [yahoo.com] and even Webcrawler [webcrawler.com] (who has horrid URLS now) list it as the top result. They may be gaming results (since when do kids need NASDAQ [kinderstart.com]?). Despite their cheery presentation, they are a for-profit company as far as I can tell. Google may have cought them doing something fishy. From what their press release page [kinderstart.com] has, they have an activity gap of four years or so, so the pageRank theories people have proposed might have weight as well. I guess we'll find out eventually.
    • Re:Kinderstart (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <eric-slash AT omnifarious DOT org> on Saturday July 01, 2006 @07:08PM (#15643833) Homepage Journal

      And never mind that Google, being a private enterprise, can present its results any way it wants (assuming that the claims are accurate), so that there's no grounds for a lawsuit. This whole incident smells frivolous.

      This is only mostly true. If google is using their market dominance of the search engine market in an attempt to surpress the rise of any other search engine, then they are doing something wrong. And if they actually have over 80% of the search engine market, it is likely even illegal. Using your monopoly position to maintain your monopoly is illegal, and it should be illegal. It's an anti-free market situation.

      I really doubt google is doing this, and it will be hard to prove if they are. But it is a question that's worthy of paying attention to, whereas the first ammendment argument is clearly completely bogus on a whole number of grounds, the least of which is the google is a private enterprise and has no responsibility to uphold the fist ammendment.

      • Re:Kinderstart (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <slas45dxsvadiv.v ... m ['x.c' in gap]> on Saturday July 01, 2006 @07:54PM (#15643929) Homepage

        Except that Kinderstart and Google are not in the same market. Kinderstart is, despite them trying to confuse the issue, a directory, not a search engine. What's more, they are a very focused directory. There is no way in hell they can even vaguely compete with Google.

        And here's a fun link. Search Google for 'kids'. What's the topmost result? Yahoo!'s Web Guide for kids.

        Oh, yeah, Google's really trying to corner that market. They not only don't even have a directory for children, but point people looking for one of those at a very big competitor to their actual business, general search.

        That's like, the exact opposite of abusing your monopoly position. Someone comes into a hamburger place (google) and wants some ice cream (Kid friendly stuff), and you don't have any, you direct them to a directly competing hamburger place (yahoo) that has ice cream (Their kid directory), instead of just an ice cream place (kinderstart), in the hopes they'll come back to you for the hamburgers.

      • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @11:53PM (#15644482) Homepage
        But a monopoly has forced itself upon its victims. Google hasn't. I hate to bring Microsoft into this but we're all familiar with the issue. Microsoft Windows XP (and thus IE, and thus MSN search) comes preinstalled on EVERY OEM PC sold. If you're looking for a prebuilt PC, you WILL be purchasing XP along with it, whether or not you want to (yeah, Apple, etc, but go into any retail outlet that's not an Apple store and that's not an option). They continue their dominance by forcing themselves upon everyone. People not only have to go out of their way to use Google, they do (just as people have to go out of their way to install Linux, though far fewer choose that route). There are other options - dozens of them, in fact - and it's just as easy to use them (easier, in the case of MSN, as it's default on who knows how many PCs worldwide).

        If you could go into any retail outlet and buy a machine with a Linux distro or OS X installed as well, and Microsoft continued to have 80%+ of the market, it would be out of choice, not a monopoly. Or at least far less of one, since one could argue about the supporting software to do mostly anything being typically available only for Windows (but that's irrelavent). That's what Google has going.

        Disclaimer: IANAL.

    • by nkh ( 750837 ) <exochicken@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Saturday July 01, 2006 @07:10PM (#15643843) Journal
      I don't know what Kinderstart is but when I see links like this one [genuinescientology.com] (a site for the Scientology) from Kinderstart's own web site [kinderstart.com], I know something's weird's happening...
    • by Chasuk ( 62477 ) <chasuk@gmail.com> on Saturday July 01, 2006 @09:00PM (#15644095)
      Further, Kinderstart isn't a search engine, nor has it ever been, not even by the most charitable definition of the term. Go to their page. They are a loosley categorized collection of links, with the addition of a search box that uses OTHER search engines to spider the web. By their reasoning, every webpage that puts a Google box on their page miraculously becomes a search engine themselves, amd hence would be eligible to sue Google.

      Fucking sour grapes losers. I wish you could bitch slap companies that abuse the legal system in this way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 01, 2006 @05:58PM (#15643662)
    ...that you're not a monopoly until the first antitrust suit shows up.

    and you're not a true monopoly unless you get them big Euro fines.

    Today's post was broght to you by the captchka 'losses'
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:00PM (#15643670)
    While the Court rejected that argument out-of-hand, it appeared more amenable to KinderStart's argument that since it was a search page, Google's suppression of a rival search engine is prohibited by antitrust laws.

    What's next, forcing Wendy's and Burger King to put McDonald's advertising placards in their restaurants?

  • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) * on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:01PM (#15643677) Homepage Journal
    Why is it that decent, hard-working business owners [google.com] are regularly subjected to legal harrasment and abuse while real criminals [stevex.net] are allowed to walk our streets and engage in unfair business practices willy-nilly?
  • by bcat24 ( 914105 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:04PM (#15643686) Homepage Journal
    Any web developer knows that ranking algorithms are fickle. Sometimes sites come out ranked well, sometimes not. Work on improving your content, and use word of mouth or advertising or whatever to get your name out there. This lawsuit is just going to waste everybody's time and money (except the lawyers', of course).
  • Supression? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:17PM (#15643725)

    If Google suppressed other search engines, they might have a point. But Google aren't suppressing other search engines, they simply aren't choosing to promote this particular one. The website still exists.

    To use an analogy that people might be more familiar with, this isn't like when Netscape complained Microsoft included Internet Explorer with Windows, this would be like if Netscape demanded that Microsoft included Netscape Navigator with Windows.

    And the whole idea that Google are doing this purposefully to kill other search engines is ludicrous, given that Google list plenty of real competitors when you search for "search engine". But somehow this tiny search engine nobody has heard of is worse competition than MSN, etc?

    They actually claim that their First Amendment rights are being infringed. For those of you completely unfamiliar with the USA constitution, as their attorney apparently is, the First Amendment says:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Last time I checked, Google not including KinderStart in their index is substantially different from Congress making a law.

    Remember: freedom of speech is not the freedom to force your speech on others.

    KinderStart are either kooks or publicity-whoring barratry artists, the SCO of search engines.

    • If dropping in rankings constitutes "suppresion" that is subject to antitrust restrictions under the theory that for a search business, the very act of placing other search engines in the rankings is inseparable from the business implications of such placement, then we have a very problematic logical extreme:

      The first twenty pages of results at every search engines must be full merely of links to other search engines, since to drop them in the rankings is anticompetitive business practice. It would render search enginges useless. Such a ruling might even imply that search engines are by definition anticompetitive, since under that understanding the primary function of a search engine is to "suppress" the visibility of sites to varying extents, with the first result being least "suppressed" and the last result most "suppressed," excepting of course those who aren't even listed and are completely "suppressed."

      Any search engine not turning up as the very first link in a major search engine's results would have an antitrust claim against them.
    • by Jeff Molby ( 906283 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @08:16PM (#15643993)
      given that Google list plenty of real competitors when you search for "search engine". But somehow this tiny search engine nobody has heard of is worse competition than MSN, etc?
      It really wasn't that long ago that Google was a nobody. I know nothing about this company, but if they have good technology, they may pose a threat to Google.
    • by Geekbot ( 641878 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @10:57PM (#15644361)
      But I think the issue was that Google may have honestly been supressing them. This was actually a good thing, because KinderStart was one of those search-engine-fraud-link-whoring sites where they pretend to be a search engine but pack in a pile of worthless links. Google eliminated a bunch of these no-content worthless sites because they were on their way to ruining Google and other search engines. Google has been more successful than some others at solving the problem.

      One of the strengths of Google is that they do suppress sites and can do so subjectively. Google is in the position of providing relevant results to its searchers. It is not in the business of providing users to websites, unless you count those that advertise. This is all good for us, but bad for scummy-scammy no-content ad sites. This is why scummy-scammy ad sites feel it necessary to sue them.
    • by I'm Don Giovanni ( 598558 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @07:14PM (#15647470)
      "To use an analogy that people might be more familiar with, this isn't like when Netscape complained Microsoft included Internet Explorer with Windows, this would be like if Netscape demanded that Microsoft included Netscape Navigator with Windows."

      Um, Netscape and the DOJ *did* demand that Microsoft bundle Netscape Navigator with Windows. Just before the DOJ filed their case, Microsoft and the DOJ were in last-ditch talks to come to a settlement to avoid the trial altogether, and Microsoft basically gave the DOJ everything it wanted except for that particular demand. Go look it up.
  • by wbren ( 682133 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:32PM (#15643763) Homepage
    Google's suppression of a rival search engine is prohibited by antitrust laws.
    If you really need to use a search engine to find another search engine, I don't think you'll ever find what you're looking for.
  • This is totally stupid. First, Google is not required to list any website, especially not those of competitors. That would be like suing the yellow pages company for not including a (free!) listing for a competitor's directory. (At least in MA, there are multiple companies selling directories. The phone companies distribute them for free, and then another company, Yellow Book, has started giving them out.) Second, this isn't free speech. Google is free to quash any company it feels like. The Webmaster Guidelines are very clear that anything "evil" won't be tolerated, and could result in delisting of a website. If this site is so great, why don't they buy AdSense ads? Then they can pick the keywords themselves and get whatever rank they want. By the way, 50% of the first two pages of results for "kinderstart" are about the lawsuit. :-b

    Does anyone think it's worth Google bombing these guys with some clever phrase, like "sore losers" or "search scammers"?

  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:43PM (#15643789) Journal
    Since google is not a monopoly, why on earth would they be required to actively promote (search engines are promoting sites with results and the higher the ranking the stronger the promotion) the competition?

    I wouldn't see any problem with google removing this site from their database and giving them NO ranking.
    • by I'm Don Giovanni ( 598558 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @07:18PM (#15647477)
      "Since google is not a monopoly, why on earth would they be required to actively promote (search engines are promoting sites with results and the higher the ranking the stronger the promotion) the competition?"

      We don't *know* whether Google is a "monopoly" as might be defined by the judge. The antitrust trial's Findings of Fact would determine such. Microsoft wasn't an official monopoly until they were declared such in the middle of the trial in which they were tried for monopolistic abuses (one reason why antitrust law is complete BS; you're tried for abuses that took place before you were ever officially declared a monopoly). If Google is declared to be a monopoly at the end of the Findings of Fact phase of the proposed antitrust trial, and Google is found to have abused that position, then we move on to the remedies phase.
      • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @10:03PM (#15672640) Journal
        "We don't *know* whether Google is a "monopoly" as might be defined by the judge."

        No but anyone with a feel for the online advertising market is aware of whether or not an entity holds a monopoly in that market or is merely popular. Judges make bad decisions all the time but google is clearly not a monopoly in truth (ignoring for a moment the idiots who believe that court decisions define the truth).

        Microsoft clearly is a market monopoly that desperately needs to be broken, even if the failed US legal system can't manage to do it.
  • Web directory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @06:58PM (#15643813) Homepage Journal
    It looks like KinderStart's primary content is a web directory. That's all that Google would spider. Web directories generally rank very poorly on Google. Google's indexing is written to take into account that when a person is searching for something they generally don't want to be sent to a directory. People want to go directly to the info they're really searching for. And if other highly ranked sights are taking about KinderStart then they'll rank higher in Google's search results for the name. So I don't see this as Google doing anything wrong.
  • by CCFreak2K ( 930973 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @07:00PM (#15643817) Homepage Journal
    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

    Wait, I think we skipped a step or two.
  • Bout time! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShyGuy91284 ( 701108 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @07:10PM (#15643841)
    I'm sick of typing in "yahoo" and "MSN" and not seeing the search portals. It's such a terrible anti-competition practice. *tries it* Oh, wait. They are the first results. In that case, Google must consider this niche search engine to be a bigger threat then MSN and Yahoo!. Who would have thought? And on a side note, KinderStart now comes up as #4 in an article pertaining to the lawsuit.
    • by fermion ( 181285 ) * on Saturday July 01, 2006 @10:19PM (#15644282) Homepage Journal
      It is very important for Google to the first result in a search using MSN. The MS market plan depends on IE users typing google into IE, being transered to the MSN page where ads can be billed and tracking cookies set, at which point they can move to the Google page. MS has no problem with google, as long as everyone has to go through MS first.

      On a more serious note, if Google does not solve the link farm problem soon, like before vista and MS IE 7 are desployed with special 'features' meant to break google, then MSN may see some serious growth. At this point Google is becoming a bit too much of an oneline ad broker, and too little of online service provider. On all but the most mundane searches, I hardly expect to get more than one real result, often in the middle of the page.

  • by Meltir ( 891449 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @07:20PM (#15643857) Homepage
    that google is a private entity(/corporation/whatever) and has no obligation to promote any site, and has the right to change there rules whenever if they see fit (since your not paying for the pagerank - your not a customer, and thus have no real rights).

    Also - as other /.'ers have pointed out - the constitution refers to the goverment stopping free speach - and since google isnt strictly affiliated with uncle sam, nor were they following someone elses orders - this isnt a real case.
    I just see no merit here - if they dont like it, they should stop relying so desperatly on adsense and their pagerank to make profit.
    There are plenty of other search engines out there that will gladly take their money for a nice - biased - pagerank, and plenty of sites that would love to get promoted in their search engine (there always are).

    Disclaimer - im not a citizen of USA, and may be wrong in uderstanding how your constitution works.
  • Does NBC have to advertise CBS programs or risk an antitrust lawsuit?
  • I did a search for "kids chat" in Kinderstart, and did not find my Kids chat listings. Google shows my site at #14 on the results for "kids chat".

    I don't have a problem with Google, but...anyone know a good lawyer? I have this new girlfriend who is teaching me the meaning of "high maintenance", and I figure Kinderstart may be good for a few bucks.
  • by zymano ( 581466 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @07:33PM (#15643879)
    day.

    Nothing but soccer going on today.
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @07:33PM (#15643880) Journal
    .... When has it been Google's responsbility to line Kinder's profit margins?

    Whats next? Have me sue you because you are not making me money? Is google even costing them money at all? They had free advertising for awhile from a competitor of all places!

    So by chance Kinder just happened to be highly rated in Google(a competitor I may add), and all of the sudden they are not advertised as much when tweaking some algorithm. Kinder cries boo hoo! Why should Google go out of their way to help a competitor?

    What pisses me off is this site has nothing to lose and the more they are mentioned on slashdot and in the news, the nigher their page rank becomes and the more money they make. Right now I bet they are raking in ad money from slashdotters checking out their site. They have nothing to lose! And as a bonus they can give free negative publicity to Google in the process.

    In Europe the losing side pays the winning side legal fee's. I wish we had this system in the States so frivelious lawsuits like this can't happen.
  • by Sir Pallas ( 696783 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @08:30PM (#15644029) Homepage
    ..a page that (in general) gets almost no traffic --- and got a lot less traffic right before they made their fuss the first time --- gets a huge traffic boost every time a stupid artcle like this comes out. Just look at the Alexa [alexa.com] traffic listing [alexaholic.com] for fun. Notice the traffic drop in Q4 2005 and then the sharp rise in Q2 2006.
  • by Caspian ( 99221 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @08:45PM (#15644067)
    It's bad enough when tech-clueless managers (think 'Pointy-Haired Boss') make decisions regarding technology; it's a thousand times worse when tech-clueless judges make decisions regarding technology legislation.

    For whatever reason, the issues surrounding computer technology mystify average people (including average judges) in a way that no other subject quite can. I cringe at the thought of a 50-something, greying, clueless bureaucrat judge making decisions regarding technology that he knows of only through occasional quotes in the Wall Street Journal.
  • I don't see this as a valid claim. Yeah, I'd be pissed if my rank suddenly dropped, but this is Google's site. For the most part, you don't pay to go into the rankings. The Adsense stuff might have some validity, but I wasn't certain if KinderStart had AdSense and were getting less money from it, or if hits from their own ad in AdSense had decreased.

    As for the anti-trust thing, I don't think that sticks, either. This isn't Microsoft telling stores they'll lose product if they stock non-MS stuff. Google isn't stopping anyone from going to that site. Google hasn't blacklisted KinderStart. KinderStart probably has retained its rankings in other search engines.
  • by bluelark ( 642039 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @09:58PM (#15644235) Homepage
    and hire a new web designer. When the lawsuit was announced in March, I did a quickie SEO analysis on their site and from the few minutes I spent, I found quite a few reasons why they plunged in GOOGLE SERPS. Basically, they weren't following accepted SEO practices (at least prior to the suit that was filed). Here's the most important part of my analysis [cleverhack.com].
    What bothers me is that I'm taking a look at the site, and quite frankly, it's underwhelming. First of all, this kinderStart site bills itself as a "search engine". I could point out a number of SEO issues with the site, starting with the appearance of the site, to the use of frames on the top menu, to the lack of easily discoverable sitemaps (no xml, txt nor static html sitemap page), no robots.txt at the site root directory, all the way down to the copyright date in the footer (as of this writing, it says "Copyright 2000 KinderStart.Com, Inc.").

    Little wonder that a page with a copyright date of 2000 has had a decrease in visitor traffic during the past 6 years. Give me a break, people.

    Plus, many of the SEO practices that KinderStart.com ignores are listed in the Google Information for Webmasters page.
  • by Millenniumman ( 924859 ) on Saturday July 01, 2006 @09:59PM (#15644239)
    10^100's search engine belongs to it. It can make the results whatever it wants. It can get rid of Yahoo and MSN. It can make Google.com the only result. And people can use their freedom of association and use another browser. Most of these antitrust suits are pandering to irrational dislike of corporations. They also represent dangerous government control over free entities.
  • by Timedout ( 985565 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @02:39AM (#15644833)
    This sort of litigation is the cause of so many injustices. While we waste our time smacking down these stupid cases all sorts of money/time/attention is drawn away from more important issues. I mean, there are real and serious things to be debated and decided by those who work for and with our justice department, but we spend all our time arguing about something that doesn't particularily make sense at all. Since when does google HAVE to do anything? People have a choice in using their system or not; they are not a monopoly. (Isn't MSN the most used search engine still?)
  • by Taed ( 752514 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @10:00AM (#15645597)

    I think that the antitrust argument can be easily refuted by searching for "search engine" on Google. If Google were really manipulating the results (and maybe even if it weren't), you'd expect "Google" to be the first result returned.

    But it's not.

    In fact, the first three are: Dogpile, AltaVista, and MetaCrawler. The next 10 are: Google UK, Google, MSN, Yahoo, Netscape, HotBot, FreeFind, Lycos, Mamma, and Vivisimo.

    So, if they were manipulating results, wouldn't that be an obvious place to start?

  • by Andy Somnifac ( 971725 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @10:15AM (#15645632)
    Oh look, when we search "search engine" in Google, our top 5 results are:
    1. Dogpile
    2. Altavista
    3. Metacrawler
    4. Google UK
    5. Google

    For some reason I don't see a monopolistic company allowing themselves to drop down to 4th or 5th in their own results.

    Anyone care to guess who the top result in Yahoo and MSN are?

  • by stas_bekman ( 986420 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @02:17PM (#15646461) Homepage
    Rather than sueing everybody, why not spend a little time complying with search engine requirements? Sometimes a very little tweak in your site can get your page ranking higher, and in reverse a little thing can get you banned completely. After reading this I've written two articles which others may find useful and improve the quality of the webcontent out there. May be if KinderStart follows those guidelines they could get their ranking back without any fights. Here they are:
    1. 12 Things to Do to Improve Your Site's Google Page Rank [stason.org]
      this article covers 12 techniques that will help raise your page rank and move your site to the top of the search hits.
    2. 12 Things NOT to Do to Improve Your Site's Google Page Rank [stason.org]
      this article covers 12 techniques that must NOT be used if you want your site's Google page rank to be high (and not to get banned)
    Enjoy!

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