Murdoch-backed adtech startup Unlockd ditches Google lawsuit: That'll be £200k, ta very much

Could have been a million times (or pounds) worse

A Murdoch-backed adtech startup that sued Google for anticompetitive behaviour has abandoned its lawsuit – and been landed with a £200,000 legal bill for its troubles.

Unlockd sued Google after its business model was thrown into jeopardy by the adtech giant. That model was simple: if you installed its app, every time you unlocked your mobile phone you would be shown an advert. By letting those ads play, you could get money off your phone bill.

Google said this breached its policies and kicked the upstart out of the Google Play app store. Unlockd then entered voluntary administration.

Originally backed by Lachlan Murdoch, one of media mogul Rupert Murdoch's children, Unlockd claimed Google was breaking competition laws. In the UK it took the adtech giant to court and the case eventually ended up in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) – but entering administration didn't help.

After an adjournment last year to look for someone willing to fund it, Unlockd's administrators eventually withdrew their case in February. "No funding was secured and Unlockd sought to withdraw the claim," said CAT judge Mr Justice Birss in his judgment (PDF), handed down earlier this week.

Mr Justice Birss ruled that Unlockd owed Google £200,000 in legal costs, though the adtech giant had originally claimed more than £1m.

Unlockd's administrators have been asked for comment. ®




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