Google Sued By Restaurant Over 'Order Online' Button

The operator of six Lime Fresh Mexican Grill restaurants has sued Google over the “order online” button that appears in its results pages when users search for restaurants.

The button, introduced in 2019, allows consumers who type a restaurant's name into the query box to connect directly with delivery services like Postmates or DoorDash, and place an order from that restaurant.

The Lime Fresh operator alleges in a class-action complaint filed Tuesday that Google misuses the Lime Fresh tradename by creating the impression that the “order online” feature is sponsored by Lime Fresh.

“Google’s 'Order Online' button leads to an unauthorized online storefront -- one owned and controlled by Google -- wherein consumers can place orders for the restaurant’s products, all under the restaurant’s tradename,” Left Field Holdings, which operates six Lime Fresh restaurants, alleges in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.



“Google prominently features the restaurant’s tradename at the top of the page, above the restaurant’s address and menu, to give the user the distinct impression that the storefront and products are authorized and sponsored by the restaurant, when they are not,” the complaint continues.

Left Field contends that the feature harms restaurants, arguing that they would have avoided fees charged by third-party delivery services if consumers had ordered directly from the restaurants.

Several months after launch, Google rolled out new controls for restaurant owners -- including one that allows the owners to turn off the “order online” button.

But the restaurant operator argues that Google should have taken an opt-in approach.

"Google -- like everyone else -- must obtain the consent of the tradename owner prior to its intended use," Left Field writes. 

The company, which is seeking to proceed on behalf of a class of restaurant owners, is asking for unspecified monetary damages.

Google spokesperson José Castañeda said the tech company will defend itself “vigorously.”

“Our goal is to connect customers with restaurants they want to order food from and make it easier for them to do it through the 'Order Online' button,” Castañeda said.

He added: “We provide tools for merchants to indicate whether they support online orders or prefer a specific provider, including their own ordering website. We do not receive any compensation for orders or integrations with this feature.”

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