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Court dismisses lawsuit against Google

Company claims Google offers password-cracking tools

A Belgian court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a company claiming a feature of Google’s search engine offers password-cracking tools and serial numbers to unlock its software.

Maarten Van Laere, chief executive at ServersCheck BVBA, Belgium, said that Google's Suggest feature could drive users who were interested in its network monitoring software to pirated versions.

The lawsuit, filed in May last year, sought to make Google modify Suggest so it doesn't offer up piracy-related terms but did not seek financial damages.

Google's Suggest feature shows a drop-down menu of popular terms related to keywords entered in its search engine. It is still under development, and the suggested terms will change over time.

When 'ServersCheck' was typed in Google's search engine on Friday, Suggest offered terms including "keygen," which refers to a program that can generate a valid product key for a software.

On 1 March, the Commercial Court in Leuven, Belgium, dismissed the suit, saying Google can't be found liable for finding web pages that may be involved in illegal activity based on search terms. Claims that the Suggest feature offered a misleading advertisement were also rejected by the court, since that's not the intended function of Suggest, said Trevor Callaghan, Google's senior product counsel for Europe.

The ruling is "what we expected", Callaghan said. Google blocks some offensive words from generating suggestions, but overall is not planning on modifying Suggest. Callaghan also said Google hasn't received complaints from other companies.

Van Laere plans to appeal and estimates that piracy of his company's software, ServersCheck, costs the company up to €100,000 a week. ServersCheck spent €25,000 on legal fees for the suit and Google hasn't responded to requests to sit down with the company about their concerns.

"We're facing a big issue with software piracy, and I can't imagine that Google is pro-software piracy," Van Laere said. "It doesn't have to come to court proceedings."

For more information on network monitoring, our sister site Techworld has a comprehensive network monitoring resource page.

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