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Sued Opera designer fingers Mozilla's 'Search Tabs' as root of $3.4M claim

Gregg Keizer | May 2, 2013
Noted browser designer denies charges

Because other browsers, notably Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), would be unlikely to follow Firefox's lead -- Chrome defaults, for obvious reasons, to Google's engine, while IE does to Microsoft's Bing -- Mozilla could use the feature to separate itself from the increasingly commoditized browser market, Limi argued.

But while Limi last year said that Mozilla could ship Firefox with Search Tabs at a moment's notice -- the core work was completed, he said, and all that remained was additional testing -- the browser has yet to include the feature.

Hansen denied that any of his work for Mozilla was based on ideas that Opera owned. "There [was] never any kind of deal or transfer of ownership of GB concepts to Opera," Hansen said, of "GB," a new browser he wanted to create but that Opera turned down when Hansen asked for 1% of all search revenue as payment.

Hansen also said that in 2010, when his consultant's contact with Opera was not renewed, he told CEO Lars Boilesen of his intent to keep working on his GB concept, most likely with Mozilla, and received at least tacit approval from Boilesen.

"I strongly disagree with their position and I believe I have been wrongly accused, and that I can prove my case," Hansen said of the suit.

Hansen is one of the most notable, if not well-known, browser designers in the world. After starting work at Opera in 1999, he was largely responsible for several of the core features all browsers now share, including in-browser search and the thumbnails of recently-visited sites that appear in a new tab page. (Opera designated the latter as "Speed Dial" in its first implementation, a term that Limi used in his June 2012 presentation.)

An initial hearing in the case is scheduled for late August in Oslo.


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