Amazon to Google: Competitors Don't Share Trade Secrets. Duh.

By Steve Bryant  |  Posted 2006-10-25 Print this article Print

Google's strategy: Demonstrate to the courts that Amazon's Search-Inside-the-Book relies on the same full book scanning process that Google Book Search does.

Amazon objected to providing details about its book search feature to Google, in a response filed Monday in federal district court in Washington.

The 16-page filing was in response to a request by Google, which says it needs those documents to fight allegations of copyright infringement from The Authors Guild and publishers.

Amazon was apparently the first company Google sought documents from. Other companies include Microsoft, Yahoo, Random House and HarperCollins.

Amazon's lawyers refused to cooperate for several reasons, including:

  • "The requests are overly broad, unduly burdensome and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence."
  • The requests impose undue burden and expense on Amazon
  • "The requests potentially call for millions of documents, essentially all documents concerning Amazon's sales of books on its websites and all searching and indexing functions used by and/or made available to consumers to allow them to search for and purchase books on the websites."
  • The requests call for information that is highly confidential, proprietary and constitutes trades secrets of "Google seeks to sell on-line advertising and to otherwise promote internet retailers that are in direct competition with
One may wonder why Google thought Amazon would ever reveal documents pertaining to the operation of their book sales and search inside the book features. I think the answer is pretty simple, and it lies in the following passage from Amazon: objects to the definition of "Amazon Book Search Project" on the grounds that it is overbroad...By way of example, to the extent the definition encompasses any functionality that permits an "index of books" to be searched on the Internet, it potenitally encompasses all of the functionality on the websites that permits consumers to search for an purchase books. further objects to this definition on the ground that it is nowhere used in any of the individual requests for production in the subpoena; in the requests themselves, Google has substituted a different term: "The Amazon Book Project."
It looks like Google is trying to suggest to the court that Google Book Search isn't substantially different from Amazon's Search Inside the Book. By requesting the documents, Google is trying to show that Amazon has to scan an entire book. It's that scanning process which the Authors Guild specifically objects to, on the grounds that scanning an entire book is beyond fair use stipulations. Thus Google is arguing if Amazon can do this and profit from sales, so can we, and profit from advertising. |

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