January 5, 2011 / 5:32 PM / 7 years ago

Google wins court challenge on government contract

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge has ordered the Interior Department to put on hold a request for a bid to upgrade its email system that Google Inc said favored Microsoft Inc.

Google argued the contract, worth up to about $59 million, was designed with Microsoft products in mind and asked for a preliminary injunction to stop it from going forward.

The contract was to provide email services to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Judge Susan Braden of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., said Google made sufficient showing that the Interior Department violated rules about competition in contracting and sent the matter back to the Interior Department. The ruling was issued on Tuesday.

Braden, however, said the court made no judgment on whether Microsoft was the right supplier for the contract.

"The court ... discerns no basis in the present administrative record to support Google allegations of bad faith," the judge wrote.

A Google spokesman said the decision was a good one.

"As a proponent of open competition on the Internet and in the technology sector in general, we're pleased with the court's decision," the spokesman said.

Microsoft had no immediate comment. An Interior Department spokesman said it would not comment on ongoing litigation.

The lawsuit comes as Google, the Internet search leader, and Microsoft step up efforts to court federal, state and local government customers for online email and productivity products.

Reporting by Diane Bartz and Jasmin Melvin; editing by Andre Grenon

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