Court Orders Yahoo To Pay Mexican Yellow Pages Companies $2.7 Billion In Mystery Case

from the billion-with-a-'b' dept

We've covered stories about the Yellow Pages and other directory companies in the past, as their business and general worth appears to be just short of evaporated, but this is a strange one. Frustratingly, there is a chasm worth of unknowns in this story, and not just by us here at Techdirt, but apparently by some of the players involved. Details are scant, due to the Mexican court system not having the kind of transparency of legal documents that we have here in the States. What we do know is that the result of a mystery lawsuit by two companies against Yahoo for "breach of contract, breach of promise, and lost profits arising from contracts related to a yellow pages listings service" is that Yahoo has been ordered to pay up $2.7 Billion (yes, with a "b") dollars. While the entire case represents something of a mystery to nearly everyone commenting on it, one commonality seems to be that everyone is confused.
If the ruling stands, Yahoo would be forced to part with nearly 36% of the $7.56 billion in cash it had as of September 30. It would be one of the first major challenges faced by CEO Marissa Mayer, who took the helm at Yahoo in July.

J. P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth was similarly stumped. A research note he issued Monday focused on the ruling, around which he said there is "little clarity." It's unclear how the court came to the $2.7 billion figure for the judgment, but Anmuth said it "appears high based on the seemingly small size of Yahoo's business in Mexico."
No one really seems to know what the hell is going on here, except everyone commenting agrees that the judgment amount is insane. That said, I should also note that the judgment is not final and that Yahoo is promising to exhaust every appeal avenue afforded to them, which you'd expect given that there's over a third of their cash assets on the line. Adding to the mystery of the case is the fact that not only are court documents unavailable, but virtually nobody is commenting on the matter either.
The lawsuit was brought by Worldwide Directories S.A. de C.V. and Ideas Interactivas S.A. de C.V. against Yahoo and Yahoo de Mexico, Yahoo said.
The companies could not be reached for comment, although Carlos Bazan-Canabal, who describes himself as a founder of Worldwide Directories, told Reuters via email that he had contracted a U.S.-based law firm to handle the Yahoo case. He declined to comment further on the matter.
For what it's worth, investors don't seem to think that the massive judgment is worth selling of Yahoo shares, as of yesterday, but with so few details it's hard to know what's going on. One thing is for certain, however: if judgments like these are validated, it would be a bright signal to tech companies throughout the world to avoid doing business in Mexico.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 7:36am

    I was wandering when other countries would wake up to the power of asking others to pay something just because somebody else that didn't do the work feels harmed.

    Apparently countries of this world will start using the legal system as a new business model.

    Isn't IP law and commercial third party liability marvelous?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 7:58am

    2 billion?

    I bet it would be cheaper to just buy those stinking companies, sack everyone and sell all assets.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The Real Michael, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 8:05am

    Congrats to the Mexican Yellow Pages on their free payday.

    We expect for other countries to bend to our will, e.g. Apple vs Samsung, but now the shoe's on the other foot. After all, how many free handouts have our own content industries received on account of copyright/patent litigation, extortion schemes, et al? They're simply copying our legal (mis)behavior.

    The ITU is prepared to redistribute wealth from tech industries over to the telcos. The German government is enforcing GEMA's redistribution of wealth program against club/bar owners. Content industries are ready to redistribute wealth from Canadian citizens to their own pockets.

    The point being, any system, legal or otherwise, which enables abuse will inevitably be abused.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JWW (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 10:06am


      It is truly a dark time for the internet and technology.

      One wonders if in the next generation or two there will be a groundswell in new thought on copyright and IP, similar to the Protestant Reformation or the Enlightenment.

      The alternative, should the Maximalists win, will result in a new Dark Age for the internet and by consequence the whole world...

      I count the internet as the fifth greatest creation of mankind. Copyright Maximalists count it as a nuisance. The Maximalists are in the end IMHO the enemy of mankind.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 8:15am

    Corporate Jammie Thomas

    Is this the corporate Jammie Thomas?

    Well actually no - because they have only been asked to stump up 36% of their assets - as opposed to 360% of their lifetime earnings...

    Yahoo - you got off lightly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 8:45am

    Forget East Texas. Patent lawsuits are now going to be filed in Mexico.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 8:49am

    Dollars to Pesos

    If all else fails, Yahoo could send them 2.7 billion Pesos claiming they thought that was what they were asking for. While $208 million is still no laughing matter, it is a far less bitter pill to swallow.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 9:30am


    That's a third of the Mexican GDP. So, The Mexican courts have said that if it weren't for Yahoo, *Mexico* would be making 33% more money a year.

    They must be very important companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 6:04pm

      Re: Hm..

      Mexico's GDP is $1.16 Trillion, making that percentage quite a bit smaller. (0.2%, to be more precise) That's what happens when American companies ship jobs to other countries.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bob, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 10:27am

    maybe it's in pesos

    I mean.. how much are 2 billion pesos?
    1 mexican peso is about 8 cents.
    so 2 billion would be just over 150 million...
    still not sure what the lawsuit is over, but that's much more affordable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 10:56am

    Doesn't Yahoo have a legal duty to disclose the nature of the lawsuit to it's investors?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mike Raffety (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 11:32am

    Mexican yellow pages

    Apparently Yahoo had a contract of some sort with these companies, more here:

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Matthew Cline (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 11:32am

    Is there some sort of rule preventing Yahoo from putting up their own filings on the Web, or could they do it but they just don't think its worth the effort?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    lucidrenegade (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 6:29pm


    "You will pay us 2.7 beeellion dollars..., or Marissa Mayer can do a couple of donkey shows and we'll call it even."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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