Business

Fetch calls Uber's bluff: See you in court, bros!

Battle over dodgy click claims heats up

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

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Advertising company Fetch says it wants a federal court to hear its challenge to Uber's claims of 'click fraud' in mobile ads.

The American arm of the UK-based ad firm filed a complaint on Tuesday seeking to have a federal court hear its challenge to the suit Uber filed in September of 2017 over the handling of fraudulent ad clicks.

Uber's original suit accused Fetch of knowingly using click-fraud operations to inflate the traffic it reported in its contract with Uber for its mobile app. That claim was withdrawn on December 22nd, with Uber saying it would instead pursue the case in a state court.

According to Fetch, Uber moved to have case dismissed because it knew the claim wouldn't hold up, and now Fetch is counter-suing to make sure it gets the case in front of the US District Court.

"Fetch does not believe that Uber can avoid federal-court scrutiny of its incorrect contract theories so easily," Fetch's counter-suit (PDF) reads.

"Fetch respectfully requests that the Court interpret the parties’ contract and issue a declaration regarding Fetch’s and Uber’s responsibilities under the parties’ contractual relationship."

At issue in the case is where the responsibility lies for 'click fraud' traffic numbers reported from the mobile app's ads. Uber had said in its case that Fetch, which subcontracts the ads to smaller companies that serve the actual banners, should bear the responsibility for the fake traffic numbers those contractors report and reimburse Uber for the fees it collects as part of its original advertising contract.

Fetch, meanwhile, contends that both it and Uber were aware of the click fraud problem when they made the $82m advertising deal, and had agreed to work together to handle the issue.

"Fetch suggested tools to Uber that Uber could use to combat ad fraud, and recommended avoiding certain suppliers that presented greater fraud risks (Uber was inconsistent in following this advice). Throughout 2015 and 2016, the parties worked well together, Fetch’s advertising successes helped register over 35 million new Uber riders, and Uber gave Fetch the highest possible ratings for its work," Fetch argues.

"Beginning in early 2017, however, Uber suddenly changed its tune. A new team at Uber took charge of the Fetch relationship. Uber pretended it had no prior knowledge of the ad fraud risk the parties had been discussing, and Uber claimed that Fetch had had a duty to prevent all ad fraud with respect to dozens of advertising suppliers, almost all of which are small businesses."

Now, Fetch says, Uber wants to pick a court that is more favorable to its case by asking the district court dismiss the claim and allow it pursue the case in a state court. Rather, Fetch says, Judge Yvonne Gonzales should call for the case to be heard in federal court where Fetch believes Uber's claims will not stand up.

The counter-claim is being heard in Oakland's US Northern District Court. ®

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