ACCC to appeal Google judgment

22 10 2011

The ACCC has announced that it intends to appeal the recent Federal Court decision which found that Google was not liable for misleading and deceptive conduct in publishing Adwords advertisements.

In its recent press release the ACCC said:

The ACCC alleged that Google had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by publishing these advertisements on Google’s search results page where a headline of the advertisement comprised a business name, product name or web address of a business not sponsored, affiliated or associated with the advertiser. When a user clicked the words in the heading of the advertisement associated with the competitor’s business or product, he or she was taken to the advertiser’s website.

Justice Nicholas found that although a number of the advertisements were misleading or deceptive, Google had not made those representations. Google merely communicated representations made by the advertiser. As such, Justice Nicholas ruled that Google had not breached the Trade Practices Act.

On appeal the ACCC has indicated that it will be challenging this finding by the Court with respect to 4 advertisements. The ACCC also indicated:

The ACCC takes the view that Google’s key word insertion system, plus the role of Google staff, were fundamental to the representations being made.

This is a significant case as there is a lack of Australian case law on Google Adwords advertisements, which are now one of the most commonly used advertisement methods for Australian businesses, with some businesses spending thousands of dollars per week.


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