Looks like Valve is really going to have to pony up in that four-year Australia consumer protection case, which finally drew to a close today when the courts denied the gaming platform company’s final appeal.
Back in 2014, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took Valve to court in the country over Steam’s refund policy. Two years later, the Aussie courts found that Valve had insufficiently advertised and provided refunds to Australian Steam customers such that it violated consumer law in the country, though it did not believe Valve intended to deceive or mislead consumers. It fined Valve the $3M AUD, roughly $2.16M USD (then), which Valve appealed. Then in January of this year, Valve petitioned the Australian High Court for “special leave” for what’s basically a final appeal to set aside the ruling and fine.
Now, that court has denied Valve’s right to be heard, meaning the federal ruling against Valve will stand.
“The High Court of Australia has dismissed a special leave application by one of the world’s largest online gaming companies, US-based Valve Corporation (Valve), which operates the Steam game distribution platform. Valve had sought special leave to appeal from the decision of the Full Federal Court in December 2017, which upheld the trial judge’s ruling that Valve had breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) when selling to Australia users, and that it pay a $3 million penalty. In 2016, the trial judge had found that Valve was had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations to Australian customers about their rights under consumer guarantees. As a result of the High Court’s refusal of special leave, the Full Federal Court’s decision that Valve is bound by the ACL in its dealings with Australian customers, despite being based overseas, is the final decision on this issue.”
Not that it will affect Valve much, since it was willing to pay for years and years of litigation to fight this precedent, but the Aussie dollar has improved against the US dollar since the first ruling in 2016, meaning that Valve now owes roughly $150,000 US more than it did then; the current conversion puts the company’s debt to the Aussies at $2.3M USD.