Google awarded £200,000 as Unlockd court case fizzles to an end

The final round of Sydney tech company Unlockd’s fight with Google has petered to an end with the global giant winning £200,000 (AU$367,000) in costs from the Competition and Appeals Tribunal in London.

Unlockd brought the case against Google to the English High Court last year after the Silicon Valley company moved to block the adtech startup’s access to the Android operating system.

Unlockd displayed advertising on users’ Android home screen in return for rewards

The company, backed by high-profile investors including Lachlan Murdoch, former Seven Group CEO Peter Gammell and Catch Group masterminds Hezi and Gabby Leibovich, was intended to list on the ASX in 2018 despite CEO and co-founder Matt Berriman stepping down to an executive director role in February that year.

Google’s decision to block Unlockd’s access to Android start screens in April 2018 effectively killed the company’s business model of showing displaying advertising on users’ phones and stymied its IPO.

Shortly after the action was started, Unlockd’s UK and Australian arms went into administration, with the case being dropped in November last year.

With the case dropped, the High Court moved the hearing to England’s Competition and Appeals Tribunal to hear Google claim £835,000 in legal costs from Unlockd’s administrators.

In a ruling handed down by the chairman of the CAT, Justice Birss, the tribunal agreed with Unlockd’s submission that Google’s costs claim was “unreasonable and disproportionate.”

Based on reviewing Google’s costs submissions, Justice Birss awarded the search engine giant £200,000 in costs. It is uncertain whether Unlockd, which started winding up proceedings in November last year, has any assets to cover the order.

Mumbrella has contacted Unlockd’s liquidators, McGrath Nicol, and Google for comment.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.