Match Group Rebuts Counterclaims in Google Play Store Antitrust Litigation

Humor Rainbow Inc., Match Group LLC, People Media Inc., and Plenty of Fish Media ULC  (collectively Match) have hit back at counterclaims lodged by Google LLC in the consolidated case challenging Google’s alleged anticompetitive conduct and abuse of monopoly power in app distribution and in-app payment processing. Google’s claims against Match, asserting that it was in breach of Google’s developer agreement all along and engaged in fraud, could not “be further from the truth,” the motion to dismiss says.

In re: Google Play Store Antitrust Litigation is playing out in San Francisco, Calif. and involves developer and consumer litigants. For its part, Match sued Google in May, alleging that a policy change forcing its dating app customers to use Google Play Billing was unfair.

The complaint detailed the companies’ partnership that reportedly went downhill when Google went back on its word about the Android OS ecosystem, including keeping it “open source,” and consumer-focused. Further, Google announced the Play Billing policy and eventually threatened to enforce it, prompting Match’s lawsuit, the complaint said.

Shortly after the suit was filed, the parties agreed that Match’s apps could remain available in Google Play Store while the court battle 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. 

This week’s motion asserts that Google is manifestly wrong because Match was allowed to offer another payment option pursuant to an exception in the DDA allowing apps selling “‘digital content that may be consumed outside of the app itself’ to bypass Google’s payment system.”

Because Google expressly permitted the conduct it now claims was breach, Match says it cannot substantiate its breach of contract claim. 

The motion next argues that Google’s fraud-based “false promise” claim, premised on two email statements, fails for inability to establish the promise and reliance elements. Google argued that in the correspondence, Match committed to complying with the DDA to obtain the extension to comply with Google’s new Payments Policy. “Neither statement is a promise to do anything,” Match responds.

The plaintiff also moved to dismiss Google’s breach of implied covenant claim for similar reasons and its quasi-contract claim for being incompatible with the simultaneously alleged contract claim.

The dismissal hearing is scheduled for September 8 before Judge James Donato.

Match Group is represented by Hueston Hennigan LLP and Google by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and O’Melveny Myers LLP.