Restaurants sue Google for creating digital storefronts

A restaurant group is suing Alphabet Inc’s Google for intellectual property rights infringement in a proposed class action lawsuit that claims the tech giant uses ‘deceptive online ordering practices’ to list restaurants in digital storefronts without their consent.

According to the lawsuit, the restaurants claim that Google uses the companies’ names, logos and brand images to redirect users to these pop-up storefronts, which they can use to place takeout and delivery orders online. Delivery orders are then redirected to third-party platforms like Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash and Grubhub, while Google would take a reduction in fees – which can be up to 30% – from these third-party services.

The proposed class action lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco by Left Field Holdings, a franchisee of the 15-unit Florida-based Lime Fresh Mexican restaurant chain. The plaintiff claims that Google is misleading users into believing that restaurants have endorsed these online listings or that they are communicating directly with restaurants when placing an order. If users had instead placed orders directly with restaurants, more of the profits would have been redirected to them, according to the lawsuit.

“The restaurant industry has already been gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Online ordering has served as a lifeline to help them reach clients, earn a meager profit, and continue to employ their staff members,” Keller Lenkner, partner at law firm Jason A. Zweig, l one of the firms representing Left Field Holdings. “It is appalling that Google is taking advantage of an industry going through such difficult times and, through these deceptive and illegal practices, taking a portion of their hard-earned profits.”

The lawsuit further states that Google violates third-party delivery licenses, which allow them to sell restaurant food products on their own websites and apps, but do not consent to a marketplace listing on Google.

The plaintiffs allege Google is in violation of federal trademark law and are seeking “actual and increased damages” from the tech company, as well as an injunction to clear up some of the confusion Google has caused consumers who want to switch. online restaurant orders.

Google, however, denied the charges in the lawsuit, saying in a statement sent to Reuters: “The online ordering feature is intended to connect customers to restaurants where they want to order food,” the carrier said. Google’s word, José Castañeda, in a statement, and is simply intended to “indicate whether they support online ordering or prefer a specific vendor, including their own ordering website.”

“We don’t receive any compensation for orders or integrations with this feature,” Castañeda continued. “We dispute the errors in characterization of our product and will defend ourselves vigorously.”

Keller Lenkner invites restaurants that believe their customers have been similarly duped by Google to join the lawsuit here.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

Find her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

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