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Developers of phone app granted injunction against Google

Posted: 19th June 2018   In: Dispute Resolution

The developers of an app for smartphones have won an injunction preventing Google from withdrawing or suspending services until a dispute can be settled at a full court hearing.

The case involved a company called Unlockd Media Technology Ltd, which developed an app delivering advertisements for the Android smartphone operating system.

The app was available for download on Google’s digital distribution service Google Play Store. It also used Google’s advertising service Admob.

The developers had entered into a partnership with telephone provider, Tesco Mobile, which incorporated the app into its services.

Google claimed the app breached several of its advertising policies and informed the developers that it would withdraw the Admob services and remove the app from Play Store.

The developers began proceedings claiming abuse of a dominant position and applied for an injunction preventing Google from removing the app.

Unlockd’s CEO made a witness statement saying that removal of the services would almost certainly be fatal to their relationship with Tesco Mobile, which produced 80% of its revenue, and it would not be possible to replace that revenue in the short to medium term due to Google’s strong position in advertisement intermediation.

Google argued that it should not have an app on its services that was in clear violation of its published policy. That could result in loss of trust by advertisers.

The court held that there was a serious matter to be tried. Removing the app from the Play Store would damage the relationship between the developers and Tesco Mobile, and commercial relationships once damaged were not easy to restore.

The judge granted an injunction preventing Google from removing the app and from withholding Admob until the issues were decided at a full trial later this year.

The injunction was limited to the UK, and Europe if Tesco Mobile was effective there. It did not apply to new products being developed by Unlockd; new products could be placed on hold for the short period before trial and compensated for in damages.

Please contact Benedict Smith if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of injunctions and protecting your business.

 

Posted by: Benedict Smith
Commercial Litigation
Luton Office