Feeds

MSN search guru 'stole AltaVista code'

More Borlandgate than Watergate

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A Microsoft employee arrested by the FBI for stealing AltaVista search source code works for MSN's Search team, the Seattle Post Intelligencer has revealed. Laurent Chavet was arrested for accessing AltaVista computers after he left the company, between March and June 2002.

However, the story is more Borlandgate than Watergate. The alleged break-in took place before Chavet joined Microsoft. Chavet had been at AltaVista from June 1999 to February 2002. In between he worked at IBM's Almaden Research Center, which amongst many other accomplishments, in 1999 developed a Google-like search engine called CLEVER which IBM failed to exploit commercially.

Chavet was arrested on 2 July on one count of unauthorized access to a computer and one count of reckless damage to a computer. He faces five years in prison for each offense and a fine of $250,000.

Microsoft declined to comment on whether Chavet had incorporated source code in MSN's revamped search. Arch-rival Yahoo! acquired AltaVista and AllTheWeb.com when it acquired classified ads leader Overture in a deal worth $1.6bn last year.

Accusations of source theft are notoriously difficult to prove. But Microsoft's practice of hiring key staff from rivals has landed it in hot water in the past. It settled out of court with Borland after hiring Anders Hejlsberg, developer of Turbo Pascal and Delphi, and so many Scotts Valley employees ended up at Redmond that they formed a "Dead Borland Society", it was alleged. In 2001, the High Court in London upheld Symbian's right to enforce a clause in executive VP Juha Christensen's contract, preventing him from working for a rival for six months after leaving the company. Microsoft had poached Juha Christensen to take charge of marketing its phone business. ®

Related stories

MSN makes its move on search
Yahoo! and Google escalate portal wars
Google files Coca Cola jingle with SEC

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.