Well, that didn’t take long. Qihoo 360 was reportedly interested in buying Sogou, but no sooner had Sogou scored an investment from Tencent than the ugly words and the lawsuits started to fly. Qihoo CEO Zhou Hongyi, never one to shy away from public shit-talking, took to the press almost immediately to claim that Qihoo wasn’t interested in Sogou after all, mostly because Sogou CEO Wang Xiaochuan was selfish for wanting to continue to develop Sogou independently, and to claim that Baidu was only ever in the running to jack up Sogou’s price beyond what Qihoo could afford.
Now, the war has gone beyond words, with both companies suing each other for unfair competition. Yesterday, Sogou announced it was suing Qihoo for 45 million RMB ($7.3 million) in damages, claiming that Qihoo’s software switches Sogou users’ default web browser to Qihoo’s 360 Safe Browser without their permission. Later that same day, Qihoo announced that it was suing Sogou for 50 million RMB in damages ($8.1 million) for binding a Sogou input method update with a copy of the Sogou browser and guiding users to install that. It claims its own software switching users back to the 360 Safe Browser is just a way of reversing the effects of the bundled browser download for users of Sogou’s input method who prefer not to use its browser.
Qihoo, of course, is no stranger to China’s court system, but given its record, one has to wonder why it keeps entering these situations voluntarily. The company has lost several lawsuits to Tencent and at least one lawsuit with Baidu in recent years, though it has additional cases pending against Baidu and the National Business Daily, among other entities. Perhaps it will find more success in this bout of suits with Sogou.