According to a docket entry issued last Friday, Judge James Donato said Match Group plaintiffs, operators of popular dating apps and websites like Tinder, Bumble, and Match.com, cannot evade defendant Google’s counterclaims in an ongoing antitrust litigation.
The consolidated case, captioned In re: Google Play Store Antitrust Litigation, contests Google’s allegedly anticompetitive conduct and abuse of monopoly power in Android app distribution and in-app payment processing. Match filed suit against Google in May, claiming recent changes, including a policy change forcing its dating app customers to use Google Play Billing, was unfair and costly to its business.
Shortly thereafter, the parties agreed that Match’s apps could remain in Google Play Store while the dispute over payment options plays out. Google also counterclaimed against Match, asserting that the plaintiff was in breach of its Developer Distribution Agreement (DDA) and incorporated Payments Policy.
Match moved to dismiss the counterclaims on multiple grounds, arguing that it did not break contract by allowing dating app users another payment option, pointing to an exception in Google’s DDA. The plaintiff also attacked Google’s fraud-based claims, premised on Match’s alleged promise to comply with Google’s new billing policy.
The court order stated that to rebut Google’s contentions, Match relied on information outside the pleadings. The order cited two examples of arguments drawn from Google’s payment policy and an email between a Match and a Google employee. “Arguments like these are not appropriate for a Rule 12 motion, and will need to be resolved at a later stage of the case on a more developed factual record,” Judge Donato concluded in denying Match’s bid to get the counterclaims tossed.