(CN) – Baidu, China’s leading Internet search engine, demands millions of dollars from Register.com, claiming the Baidu Web site went down for 5 hours and was not fully restored for two days after it was hacked by “the Iranian Cyber Army.”
Most Americans were introduced to Baidu recently, when Google threatened to pull out of China after its accounts were hacked by sources in China. Google said it could no longer tolerate the Chinese government’s censorship of information.
In a heavily redacted complaint in Manhattan Federal Court, Baidu claims that its site was vandalized so that users were “misdirected to a Web page depicting an Iranian flag and broken Star of David and proclaiming: ‘This site has been hacked by the Iranian Cyber Army.'”
Baidu says it was “locked out of its own account,” and its “operations were thus interrupted for approximately five hours and did not fully resume for two days – resulting in serious and substantial injury to Baidu’s reputation and business, including millions of dollars of lost revenue and out-of-pocket costs expended in restoring service to its users.”
Stories reporting Google’s threat to leave China made headlines around the world – except in China – reported that Baidu has a greater share of the Chinese search engine than Google.
In its complaint, filed Tuesday by attorneys with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Baidu demands damages from Register.com, which it describes as “a registrar of Internet domain names,” including Baidu.com.
Eighty lines in the 12-page complaint are blacked out, in whole or in part.
Baidu claims Register.com’s “online chat representative refused to help when Baidu asked for assistant, and Baidu was unable to reach defendant by telephone – despite the promise on defendant’s home page that customers can ‘(s)speak to a knowledgeable service specialist any time you have questions – 24/7.’ Remarkably, defendant’s gross negligence and reckless disregard of Baidu’s pleas for assistance continued even after Baidu contacted defendant to demand that defendant restore Baidu’s service. Defendant did not begin restoration work until two hours after first being contacted by Baidu, although the urgency of the situation was made clear to defendant in numerous calls and online tech support chats from Baidu.”
Baidu seeks punitive damages for breach of contract, gross negligence, aiding and abetting tortious conversion, and breach of duty of bailment.
“By replacing baidu.com’s search service interface with the politically charged graphic described above, the imposter committed trespass upon Baidu’s reputation,” the complaint states.