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Google Play store reopens paid apps in Taiwan (update)

2013/02/27 20:34:08

Taipei, Feb. 27 (CNA) U.S. search engine Google Inc. confirmed Wednesday that it has resumed its offerings of paid mobile applications in Taiwan, ending a 20-month suspension resulting from a legal dispute with the Taipei city government.

"Google Inc. is pleased to announce that Taiwan users can once again find and purchase paid apps on Google Play," Google said in a statement.

Taiwanese users can now read the "Top Paid" app page at the Google Play app store -- previously known as the Android Market -- where some 12 apps are already available, with prices ranging from NT$49.8 (US$1.68) to NT$740.74.

On June 3, 2011, the Taipei city government ordered local branches of Apple Inc. and Google to add a seven-day free trial mechanism to their mobile phone software stores within 15 days.

While Apple agreed to comply with this return policy, Google insisted on maintaining its original policy, which allows users refunds for paid apps only within 15 minutes of purchase.

On June 27 of that year, the city government fined Google NT$1 million (US$33,700) for violating the Consumer Protection Act, which stipulates that consumers are entitled to return products they have bought online within seven days and to obtain refunds if they are dissatisfied or if the goods are faulty.

Google then suspended sales of paid apps from the Android Market in Taiwan.

The Taipei High Administrative Court ruled Dec. 27 last year that Google's practice of offering consumers a 15-minute return policy rather than the seven days stipulated by law is not something that the city government can regulate under Taiwan's Consumer Protection Law.

For that reason, the court said, the city government is in no position to order Google to revise its practice.

The city government's Department of Legal Affairs said in a statement dated Jan. 28 that in consideration of the best interests of consumers, the city has decided not to appeal the case and hopes the dispute can be brought to a close.

The department said it "regrets but respects" the ruling that the terms of sale should fall under the jurisdiction of the central government, that only consumers can file lawsuits to claim invalid terms, and that the city government has no need to intervene.

But the ruling also clearly states that paid apps should fall under the seven-day grace period and that Google's sales terms are invalid according to the law.

(By Jeffrey Wu)
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