Uber's new year is off to an excellent start with the news that it's being sued by British mobile advertising agency Fetch. Uber allegedly claims that the agency was generating fraudulent ads and refused to pay up, so Fetch is taking the ride-hailing firm to court over the matter.
This is actually the second part the lawsuit story, since Uber had actually sued Fetch last September. It alleged that Fetch had charged it for adverts that were nonexistent, nonviewable, or fraudulent, as well as failing to pass back rebates and commissions it received. That lawsuit was voluntarily dropped on 22nd December after it was reassigned to a different District Judge, though Uber did promise it would be pursuing similar claims in a San Francisco state court.
But Fetch, which is part of the Japanese firm Dentsu, has gone ahead and filed a counter lawsuit in the same California federal court. The agency has also suggested that Uber's initial lawsuit was dropped because the new judge was Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who has overseen some of Uber-related litigation in the past, and it feared it might lose.
Fetch's lawsuit has also requested Rogers be assigned to determine both company's responsibilities, and that Uber pay the $19.7 million (£14.54 million) worth of unpaid bills from last year. It also added: "Fetch does not believe that Uber can avoid federal-court scrutiny of its incorrect contract theories so easily."
Back in September Uber said that it had hired Fetch to place ads that would encourage new users to download the Uber app, promising to pay for "legitimate clicks" that attracted new customers. However, it claims Fetch was taking credit for downloads that occurred without the ads ever being clicked, and that ads started appearing in places Uber specifically asked them not to appear - like controversial far right news outlet Breitbart. The company also claims it paid Fetch $82.5 million (£60.89 million), but the agency's failure to deal with ad fraud helped contribute to $50 million (£36.91 million) worth of damages.
Fetch hot back, calling Uber a "faithless business partner", and had helped Uber monitor ad fraud despite not having a contractual obligation to do so. It also claims to have helped Uber register more than 35 million riders.
It's going to be a while before this argument is settled, so it's likely we'll hear a bit more about this in the coming months. Maybe not as much as some of Uber's more high-profile lawsuits, but still. The case in question is Fetch Media Ltd v. Uber Technologies Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-00015. [Venture Beat]