Siding against the operator of Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, a federal judge on Friday dismissed the company's complaint against Google over the “order online” button that appears in 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. Several months after Google rolled out the tool, the company added controls to allow restaurants to turn off the button.
The ruling, issued by U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California, comes in a lawsuit brought in March by Left Field Holdings, which operates six Lime Fresh restaurants. The restaurant company alleged that Google's use of the Lime Fresh name near the “order online” button creates the impression that Lime Fresh sponsors “order online.”
Left Field's complaint included claims that Google infringed trademark and engaged in counterfeiting.
Chhabria rejected all of Lime Fresh's claims, writing that Google's use of the name “Lime Fresh” near the order online button was protected by fair use principles.
“There is no other way to identify the restaurant,” Chhabria wrote. “Google uses only the plain name, not a stylized logo; and there is no improper suggestion of sponsorship or endorsement.”
“Finally,” he added, “in no way does this page conceivably amount to counterfeiting.”
The dismissal was without prejudice, meaning that Left Field Holdings can revise its allegations and bring them again.