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Alphabet Inc.’s Google has been sued by an early user of its cloud-based productivity software Workplace, who claims the company broke a promise to give her free lifetime access to the program.
Google Workplace, formerly known as Google Apps and G Suite, provides a range of services including Gmail, Calendar, Drive as storage and Google Docs for content creation. Some programs are free for everyone, but business features such as custom email addresses and shared Drive storage are charged.
The Stratford Company LLC filed suit on behalf of all the early adopters who were lured into using the software in its early stages, allowing Google to tweak it and then sell it for a fee. In exchange, the Stratford Company said early adopters were promised a free version of Workspace if Google offered it.
In 2012, Google began charging new customers $12 per month to use the software. Then, in 2022, Google notified legacy users that they would also be charged, though it later excluded non-business users of the software.
“Google’s abandonment of the ‘don’t be evil’ creed is well illustrated in this case,” the Stratford Company said in a complaint filed Friday in federal court in San Jose. “Google, as the better part of a nearly two trillion dollar conglomerate, is breaking a promise to loyal customers who helped Google develop a profitable product to offset its already grossly inflated profits.”
The Stratford company is seeking class action status for all early adopters and damages to be determined in court, but more than $5 million.
Google did not immediately respond to an email request for comment sent after regular business hours.
The case is The Stratford Company LLC v. Google LLC, 5:22-cv-4547, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).