Thursday, April 27, 2023

Madras High Court Grants “Injunction Against Google In A Suit Filed By Ltd

* Terming the service fee of 11%-26% intended to be imposed by Google under User Choice Billing as “Unconscionable” Madras High Court on 25th April 2023 granted interim relief to by an order of Interim Injunction restraining Google from delisting / removing the Apps of from Google Play Store for non-compliance of payment policy 

Google being the Gatekeeper of Digital Economy, undoubtedly is a monopoly in digital market space and all the App Developers are majorly dependent on Google Play store to distribute their Apps across the globe.  Abusing its monopolistic position, Google tried to make Google Play Billing System as mandatory and sole option for payments and imposed a fee of 15% / 30% depending upon the annual revenue, however, because of the timely intervention of Competition Commission of India (CCI) such imposition of GPBS as only option for App developers to get payments were held to be illegal by CCI.  Proceedings for violation of remedies advised by CCI are pending before CCI pursuant to the direction given by Hon’ble Delhi High Court. Limited, India’s largest online match making company, to protect its interest, approached Madras High Court against Google group of companies and sought for interim reliefs.  The main contention of was that the present payment policy of Google is in violation of applicable law and imposing 11%/ 26% fee on the revenue will cause huge hardship and irreparable loss to all the App developers and such a levy is unconscionable and not sustainable. Madras High Court, after hearing the arguments of was convinced that prima facie case was made out and balance of convenience is in favour of for grant of Interim Injunction against Google.  

Speaking about the injunction order, Mr Murugavel Janakiraman, CEO, Ltd said, it is a great relief and the fee structure proposed by Google is a death knell to Indian start-ups. Google is forcing app developers to agree to its payment policy of charging a service fee at the rate of 11% and 26% even with respect to the payments made by customers through its new users’ choice /alternate billing system without providing any services at all. Google is trying to circumvent the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) order which directed Google not to restrict app developers from using third party billing or payment processing services, either for in-app purchases or for purchasing an app.  Google forcing App Developers to use alternative billing system or user choice billing along with its billing system and terming it as a new policy and charging App developers ridiculously high 11%/26% on the revenue is unconscionable and not acceptable. We will continue to fight legally until Google stops its monopoly behaviour of taxing Indian startups.” 

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