Google sued for nixing free workspace software to early adopters


Alphabet’s Google was sued by an early adopter of its Workplace cloud productivity software, who claims the company has broken its promise to give it free access to the program for life.
Google Workplace, formerly known as Google Apps and G Suite, offers a wide range of services, including Gmail, Calendar, Drive for storage, and Google Docs for content creation. Some programs are free for everyone, but business features like custom email addresses and shared Drive storage cost extra.

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The Stratford Company LLC filed a lawsuit on behalf of all early adopters to use the software early, which allowed Google to refine it and then sell it for a fee. In return, Stratford Company said early adopters were promised a free version of Workspace as long as Google offered it.

In 2012, Google started charging new customers $12 (about Rs. 950) per month to use the software. Then, in 2022, Google informed older users that they would also be charged, although it later excluded non-business users from the software.

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“Google’s abolition of the ‘don’t be evil’ creed is well illustrated in this case,” Stratford Company said in the complaint, filed Friday in federal court of San Jose. “Google, the bulk of a conglomerate worth nearly two trillion dollars, is breaking a promise to loyal customers who have helped Google develop a profitable product in order to fill its already grossly oversized profits.”

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The Stratford company is seeking class action status for all early adopters and damages to be determined at trial but over $5 million (approximately Rs. 40 crore).

Google did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment, which was sent outside normal business hours.

The case is The Stratford Company LLC v. Google LLC, 5:22-cv-4547, US District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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