Late last week Yahoo! quietly announced in a press release that it had been fined $2.7 billion by a Mexican court for breach of trust and damages in a court case filed in Mexico by two companies, Worldwide Directories and Ideas Interactivas. Yahoo! of course announced it would appeal and called the charges “incredible,” in the most literal sense of the word. As in, not credible.
The judgement, no. 1524/2011, is not public and therefore we can only guess at some of the details. For instance, could the number be a garble? Mexican government organizations typically list all prices and monetary explanations denominated as pesos, not dollars. This would be a colossal number for a Mexican court judgement. It’s also notable that the company apparently lost the suit as Yahoo! Mexico, Yahoo International Subsidiary Holdings, Inc., Yahoo Hispanic Americas and as “big” Yahoo! (i.e. Yahoo! Inc.). See this screenshot (and filing history of the case, in Spanish) from BuhoLegal, a Mexican aggregator of legal decisions:
This isn’t the first time that Ideas Interactivas has been in court in Mexico. It was also apparently sued by Maxcom Telecommunications, a Mexican phone company, in 2009. A decision also came through in that case, in mid-November, though the result of that judgement was not available.
Reporting on the decision in Spanish from Mexico has been fairly sparse, with little additional detail available. But we did find the following picture, from the website Pelenga, which may give us at least a little flavor for what happened.
According to various reports, the initial run of the book, a sort of Yellow Pages, was about 800,000 copies, with another 1.7M planned, according to a 2003 report from Noticias Dot, a Spanish-language website. That’s a small run for a country of over 100 million people and a Mexico City metro area of more than 20 million. The whole project appears to have been timed (unfortunately for all parties involved) with the early 2000s’ explosion of Internet adoption in Mexico.
The web domain for the whole failed project, called Pagina Útiles, is for sale, in case you’re interested.