A Beijing Court has ordered the operators of 8848.com to pay Sohu.com (SOHU) CNY552,000 for engaging in unfair competitive practices.

The court found that Beijing Zhumulangma Network Company and Beijing Zhufeng Wanwei Technology Development Company, the two operators of 8848.com, have harmed Sohu's brand by adding a search navigation bar to Sohu's search page.

The problems started over a year ago when Sohu.com brought a lawsuit against proprietors of 8848, seeking CNY1 million compensation. In its petition to the court, Sohu said that 8848 had been taking advantage of Sohu's large indexed database, providing 8848 users with enhanced search tool software that includes links to 8848 pages on the Sohu pages and therefore decreases the speed of Sohu's servers.

The 8848 search tool is software that users download and add to their web browsers to enhance their searches. Companies like Google (GOOG), Yahoo (YHOO), and Microsoft (MSFT) have similar types of free services.

Sohu believes 8848 is advertising itself through modifying Sohu's web pages, hence violating Sohu's copyright. Sohu also says 8848's tool constitutes poor competitive practices.

In December 2005, a Beijing judge ordered 8848.com to pay Sohu.com CNY552,000. However, unwilling to accept the court's ruling, 8848, refused to apologize and to compensate Sohu. 8848 then now launched a counter-suit against Sohu.

With this new ruling against 8848, it appears that the company has exhausted its appeals and will need to pay Sohu.com.

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