Australian startup Unlockd has had a win in its fight against 'anti-competitive' Google

Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

  • Unlockd app rewards users who agree to view ads before unlocking their phone.
  • Google gave green light for app on two occasions in 2017.
  • Google now threatening to withdraw services as Unlockd flags plans for IPO.

Australian startup Unlockd has had a win in its fight against Google.

The English High Court today granted an interim injunction to stop Google from disabling AdMob-generated ads and removing Unlockd apps from the Google Play Store in the UK.

Unlockd applied for the injunction on April 16 after Google warned the startup it would withdraw its access to Google Play and AdMob services.

Google claimed Unlockd, which rewards users for opting to view targeted ads, content and offers when they unlock their smartphone, breached a number of its policies.

Currently, Unlockd uses Google’s AdMob inventory to source most of its advertising content and its apps are only available on the Google Play Store.

Unlockd claims Google approved its app for use with AdMob on two separate occasions during 2017 “following exhaustive testing”.

Unlockd CEO Matt Berriman has relocated himself to the US.

On both occasions, according to Unlockd, Google acknowledged the app was “consistent with their policies”, and Unlockd has not made any changes to its app that would change that view since.

In an official statement, Unlockd did note that Google’s warnings emerged at a time of speculation around an Unlockd IPO in mid-April 2018.

That IPO has been put on hold.

Unlockd believes Google is taking an anti-competitive approach to stop its “rapid expansion and innovation, and therefore protecting Google from a growing and potential competitor”.

The app rewards users with mobile data, credit off phone bills, entertainment content or loyalty points. It says it has so far returned over $15 million worth of rewards to 330,000 active users.

Unlockd in action.

In a statement today, Unlockd said it was pleased to have been granted the interim injunction, but was disappointed with its “limited scope”.

“We will continue to explore our legal options to protect our interests fully, both in the UK and globally,” it said.

“However, we would not expect Google to take unilateral action against our other businesses in Australia and the United States in circumstances where the Court has made a clear order in the UK preventing such action.”

A trial date will be handed down on Monday in a follow up hearing, with an anticipated date of either end of July or September.

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