Ad start-up wins injunction against Google

Ad start-up wins injunction against Google

Australian mobile advertising start-up Unlockd has had an early win in its fight against Google’s threat to its survival.

Google’s attempt to remove the Unlockd UK app from Google’s Play Store and Admob has been halted by the English High Court, which granted an interim injunction against the search engine, taking into account the detriment the removal could have on a young company.

A statement by Unlockd in April, when the application for an injunction was lodged, noted that the threats by Google “represent an abuse of its dominant position and breach of competition rules”.

The injunction was lodged after UnLockd was forced to abandon its planned float on the Australian Securities Exchange because of Google’s plan to bar it from its platforms. Google claimed that Unlockd’s apps, which show advertising or other content when a user unlocks their Android phone, violates the terms of use of the Play Store and the AdMob advertising.

This is despite previously approving the app for use with AdMob on two different occasions. The AdMob and Playstore marketplace accounts for 80 per cent of Unlockd’s ad inventory.

Unlockd aims to reward partners, advertisers and consumers for the time they spend on their digital devices by serving users relevant ads as they unlock their smart devices. In return, users gather points to redeem on rewards and offers.

The legal battle between Google and Unlockd underlines concerns over the tech giant’s anti-competitive stance, which is already under scrutiny by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Unlockd’s statement to the High Court argues the threats prevent the start-up from “raising capital to continue its rapid expansion and innovation, and therefore protecting Google from a growing and potential competitor”.

A date will be set for a full hearing when the case is expected to return to court on Monday.

News Corp co-chairman and 21st Century Fox executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch is a major investor in Unlockd.