Feb 082011

As Google continues to dominate the world of search engines (their name even becoming a verb along the way … don’t believe me? Google it.), the company is keeping a fierce eye on its brand and the algorithms that keep it relevant.

And while Yahoo is a very distant second to Google in search engine popularity, it’s the current third place contender, Microsoft’s Bing, that is being accused of copying code.

At Farsight 2011, a Bing-sponsored event, Google’s anti-webspam engineer Matt Cutts made the accusation that many of the improvements to the Microsoft search engine were lifted from Google. He even levied claims that Bing search results were directly copied from Google search results.

Considering Microsoft Vice President Harry Shum was sitting next to Cutts on stage when these statements were made, the accusation was very public.

But Cutts had proof.

Google had manually set up numerous bogus search results for extremely random queries that had nothing to do with the search algorithm Google normally applies. Within weeks, those same bogus search results appeared on Bing.

Microsoft’s Shum seemed unfazed with his reply, “My argument is that when users use search engines, they are actually willing to share the data. We are collectively using the data to improve the search engine,” Shum said. “Everyone does this, Matt.”

Cutts defended his position by stating, “We don’t use clicks on Bing in Google’s ranking.”

With the knowledge that Google had this information as far back as the summer of 2010 and waited until February 2011 to appear at a Bing-sponsored event, the publicity angle of the accusation is hard to miss. Being the market leader, Google should anticipate a certain degree of competitors trying their best to mimic success.

Despite the alleged plagiarism, Google has little to fear in losing market position in the near future.

Usages statistics for 2010 show that 60-70% of American’s still prefer to “Google it.”

Less than 15% decided to “Bing it.”

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