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Summary:

On today’s investor relations call, Google CFO Patrick Pichette said that Google’s years-long legal battle with Viacom cost a total of $100 million in legal fees. And the case never even went to trial.

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On today’s investor relations call, Google CFO Patrick Pichette said that Google’s years-long legal battle with Viacom cost a total of $100 million in legal fees. And the case never even went to trial, instead getting thrown out by the judge last month.

Pichette said that Google was pleased by the copyright case’s dismissal, but that’s still a hefty chunk of change. And while that’s the kind of legal bill a tech giant like Google can handle, smaller companies haven’t been as lucky.

The bankruptcy of Veoh, for example, was blamed by founder Dmitry Shapiro on its lawsuit with Universal Music Group. As Shapiro told All Things D’s Peter Kafta last February:

“Clearly the UMG lawsuit was a tremendous weight on the company. It was both financially draining and distracting, and it choked off the ability for any significant strategic deals, because everybody we talked to was terrified of getting sued immediately,” he said. “And we know that potential investors were thinking that, too.”

Kafka reported that the UMG lawsuit only cost the company “something in the $6 million to $8 million range in legal fees,” and as Ryan Lawler wrote at the time, problems with the company’s management and strategy were major contributing factors towards the company’s failure.

But to bring it full circle: Veoh winning the UMG lawsuit was a major factor in the District Court throwing out Viacom’s copyright dispute with YouTube.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): Why Viacom’s Fight With YouTube Threatens Web Innovation (subscription required)

  1. Why doesn’t the loser pay the other’s legal fees?

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    1. I was wondering exactly the same thing. I’m from Italy so maybe I don’t know exactly how the justice in US technically works but don’t loser pays counterpart’s fees as asked by Scott?

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      1. Maybe it has something to do with the case being thrown out instead of actually tried and won?

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      2. umh…yeah probably. But Im still confuse, probably due to the difference of our justice’s systems. That means tomorrow I will go straight on justice dot gov or something like that just to clarify :)

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  2. Don’t forget — THE LAWSUIT AIN’T OVER YET! We are now in the appeals stage folks — so, the clock keeps running on the time-sheets of those value-creating lawyers (one 15 minute increment at a time ….)

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  3. But if it was thrown out of court, isn’t that pretty much the definition of a frivolous lawsuit? If so, that’s pretty much what loser-pay was created for.

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