Home News The Madras High Court has temporarily prevented Google from delisting apps of Indian startups

The Madras High Court has temporarily prevented Google from delisting apps of Indian startups

by khushahal vishwakarma
Madras High Court

The interim arrangement requires startups to pay Google a 4% fee on the total revenue generated from downloads through the Play Store and submit data to the tech giant on the 15th of every month.

On August 18, a division bench of the Madras High Court passed an interim order restraining Google from removing apps of several Indian startups from its Play Store.

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Under the interim arrangement, startups are required to pay Google a 4% fee on the total revenue generated from downloads through the Play Store and submit data to Google by the 15th of every month.

This order was issued in response to an appeal filed by a group of Indian startups challenging a single judge’s order from the Madras High Court, which had dismissed their petitions against Google’s app billing policy.

Senior advocate and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram argued on behalf of some startups, stating that the case presented by the startups was genuinely worthy of consideration and that the Competition Act of 2002 should be interpreted in a way that allows a case to be maintained. Legal firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas informed Chidambaram about the case.

The possibility of the appeal hearing continuing on August 23 remains.

The appeal was first heard on August 11 when the court issued a notice to Google. Tech giants had also promised in court not to delist startup applications until August 18.

On August 3, a single judge of the Madras High Court dismissed 14 out of 16 petitions from Indian startups and tech companies against Google’s app billing policy, including companies like Bharat Matrimony, Shaadi.com, and Unacademy.

The court stated that this matter falls within the jurisdiction of the Competition Commission of India (CCI). It’s been indicated that the remaining two petitions, one involving the streaming service Disney+ Hotstar and the exam preparation app Testbook, may also be dismissed.

The High Court acknowledged that since the startups have alleged an abuse of their dominant position by Google, the CCI has the authority to decide on it. The High Court further noted that the CCI’s power to direct any entity found guilty of abusing its dominant position to stop such practices would apply to all businesses in such situations. However, in the current case, such an order will be applicable only to the company that has challenged Google’s policy.

Other petitioners include streaming services like Gaana, Truliemedaily, QuackQuack, Pratilipi, Krafton, Tamil Prachak Anand Vikatan, Alt Balaji, Stage, and Aha, which represent major streaming services like Zee5, SonyLIV, and SunNXT.

As per the new policy, if a user pays through the alternate billing system (also known as user choice billing), a service charge will still apply to transactions but at a reduced rate of 4%. The startups have alleged that this policy is akin to Google misusing its dominant position.

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