Valve Fined $3 Million After Losing Appeal

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Valve must now pay a fine of $3 million after the High Court of Australia dismissed the massive gaming company's appeal.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued an official statement that cited the court system's past decision that found Valve had "engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations" regarding the Steam refund policy. In 2016, the ACCC issued another statement that explained how Valve's policies conflicted with Australian law. The court found that Valve had made the following misleading representations to customers:

  • Consumers were not entitled to a refund for digitally downloaded games purchased from Valve via the Steam website or Steam Client (in any circumstances);
  • Valve had excluded statutory guarantees and/or warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality; and
  • Valve had restricted or modified statutory guarantees and/or warranties of acceptable quality.

In December of 2017, Valve appealed the decision of the Full Federal Court that found the company in violation of Australian Consumer Law and said that it must pay a penalty of $3 million. The High Court has now struck down Valve's appeal against the Full Federal Court's decision.

The ACCC also provided a comment on the legal situation concerning the business being done overseas. As many gamers will now, Valve is a U.S.-based organization. However, Valve has said that the games distributed through Steam aren't "goods" according to Australian Consumer Law, a consideration that would determine whether Valve actually did business in Australia or not. But with the High Court dismissing Valve's appeals and the court systems saying that Valve did do business in the country and is bound by the laws, the ACCC says that this court's decision to strike down the appeal and move forward is important for setting a precedent for future overseas business interactions.

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"This important precedent confirms the ACCC's view that overseas-based companies selling to Australian consumers must abide by our laws. If customers buy a product online that is faulty, they are entitled to the same right to a repair, replacement or refund as if they'd walked in to a store," ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

The legal action against Valve commenced years ago in 2014 with the ACCC took legal action against the game company and its Steam distribution service. The ACCC claimed within the statement that there are 2.2 million Australian Steam subscribers.

Full statements from the ACCC can be seen through the commission's site.