Google Sued Over Restaurant Listings

John Lister's picture

Google is facing a lawsuit for alleged "deceptive and unfair conduct" in its restaurant listings. The lawsuit claims it tricked users into using third-party delivery services from which it received a cut.

Google has rejected the claims and said it offers restaurants the chance to get orders direct, with no fee for the search giant.

The case centers on a special button reading "Order Online" that appears besides search results for restaurants. It takes users to a custom page which includes details of the restaurant, its address and its menu. The lawsuit says this is an "unauthorized online storefront" that misleadingly appears to be the work of the restaurant. (Source:

Users can then place an order which then goes to a third-party delivery "provider" which will either collect the food from the restaurant and deliver it, or simply pass on the order for the restaurant to fulfill. In both cases, the third-party collects fees, some of which it passes on to Google.

Opt-Out System

Google points out that restaurants can update their listing to say they prefer to receive orders directly, or point to a specific delivery company. In this case, Google doesn't receive any money from orders.

The real point of dispute is what does and doesn't happen by default. It appears Google is adding the feature to listings for restaurants and pointing users to the third parties and leaving it up to restaurants to actively object to this. The lawsuit argues Google should only point to third parties once restaurants have actively agreed to it.

Class Action Sought

The lawsuit comes from a company called Left Field Holdings, which runs a Florida franchise called Lime Fresh Mexican Grill. Its lawyers are seeking class action status based on the sheer number of restaurants in the US that may have been affected. (Source:

As well as misleading advertising, the lawsuit alleges Google has violated intellectual property rights by misusing restaurants' trade names.

What's Your Opinion?

Does the case sound plausible? Would you assume an "Order Online" button in search results pointed to the restaurant itself? Is it fair to argue the restaurants should simply refuse to accept orders through third party services?

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beach.boui's picture

Google has become the evil empire. They have long ago departed from their original creed of "Do no evil". The practices described in this lawsuit are deceptive and abusive in several ways. I hope they pay a steep price.