The Reason Some Restaurants Are Suing Google Over Its Order Online Option

If you've simply Googled a restaurant in hopes of placing an order online, you might not have realized that Google actually set up the ordering platform for the restaurant. And whether the restaurant was consulted about that feature is currently under dispute. That's exactly why some have filed a class action lawsuit in San Francisco alongside the primary plaintiff, Florida-based Left Field Holdings (via Nation's Restaurant News). The lawsuit claims that Google used proprietary names, logos, and trademarked images without restaurants' permission. For those who ordered delivery through Google's "order online" button, other businesses like Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash, or Grubhub may have been used to get customers their food, which also eats into the restaurants' profits at high percentages.

"The restaurant industry has already been gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Online orders have served as a lifeline to help them reach customers, make a slim profit, and continue employing their staff members," said Keller Lenkner, a partner at the law firm representing Left Field Holdings. "It is appalling that Google would take advantage of an industry going through such a challenging time and, through these deceptive and illegal practices, take a portion of their hard-earned profits for itself." 

But the restaurants are not the only ones losing out through this online ordering system.

How Google responded

According to Nation's Restaurant News, the lawsuit alleges that Google is not only violating the rights of restaurants and taking advantage of them, but the third-party delivery companies who are getting a portion of the profit are also being used. The lawsuit addresses that such delivery services did not consent to Google's results listings either, and that many of them have customers order directly through their websites or apps.

Of course, Google has responded in defense of its actions by releasing a statement. According to Reuters, José Castañeda, Google's spokesperson, claimed that the "order online" button listed under restaurants' Google listing is simply meant to "connect customers with restaurants they want to order food from." Castañeda also noted that the "order online" button is meant to "indicate whether they support online orders or prefer a specific provider, including their own ordering website." Furthermore, Castañeda said, "We do not receive any compensation for orders or integrations with this feature. We dispute the mischaracterizations of our product and will defend ourselves vigorously." 

Clearly, Google does not accept these accusations lightly and only time will tell what will come from this dispute.