The judge overseeing a competition case against Google by mobile advertising startup Unlockd has extended a temporary injunction to the search engine giant’s US arm.
In a judgment published Tuesday, Federal Court Justice Mark Moshinsky also granted approval to serve claims against Google LLC under the Hague Convention. The claims allege the tech giant misused its market power by blocking Unlockd’s app from its Google Play and AdMob services in Australia.
In including Google LLC in an interim injunction that initially barred just Google Asia Pacific from blocking the app, Judge Moshinsky said there was a serious issue to be tried against Google LLC and that no harm would come to it by including it in the injunction.
“On the basis of the material presently before the court, there is no realistic prospect of harm to Google LLC from the grant of interim relief. Indeed, Google Asia Pacific or Google LLC will continue to earn a revenue share from AdMob supplied advertisements that are published through the Unlockd apps,” the judge said.
Judge Moshinsky said Unlockd had a case for relief against Google LLC based on documents that showed Google Asia Pacific was acting as the agent of Google LLC when it threatened to block Unlockd’s app.
“These documents provide prima facie evidence that Google Asia Pacific was acting as the agent of Google LLC in relation to at least part of the relevant conduct,” Judge Moshinsky said.
The ruling goes further than a recent decision by the UK High Court, which also granted an injunction shielding an Unlockd app but restricted it to Google UK.
Judge Moshinsky’s interim injunction against the two Google entities will stay in effect until an interlocutory injunction hearing scheduled for the week of June 25.
It means the company’s Unlock Rewards app, which allows the eight million members of Wesfarmers’ Flybuys scheme to earn points for viewing ads, will remain available for download on Google’s platforms in Australia.
Unlockd filed its competition and consumer case against Google in Federal Court last Wednesday, after Google notified it of plans to block the app.
The case alleges misleading and deceptive conduct under the Australian Consumer Law and accuses Google of misusing its market power in violation of section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act. It is believed to be the first case to test the new effects test under the Act, which took effect in November.
Both parties are also seeking an expedited trial.
Unlockd is represented by Minter Ellison.
Google is represented by Ashurst.
The case is Unlockd Limited v Google Asia Pacific & Anor.
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