Google trumps ACCC in search case

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has lost a court case against Google over claims advertising on the internet search giant’s main website could be confused with search results.

The case centred around sponsored links by online trading company Trading Post. One such case involved the Newcastle car dealer Kloster Ford. According to the judgement, a search of “Kloster Ford” back in 2005 gave “sponsored link” results that would direct customers to the Trading Post website.

The competition watchdog alleged that because the headline of the link often referred to just the business name alone — for example, Kloster Ford — and then redirected to the Trading Post website, which had no affiliation with the real Kloster Ford, Google and Trading Post were engaged in deceptive conduct.

The ACCC also alleged that Google was misleading consumers by not making it clear that sponsored links were advertisements.

In the Federal Court in Sydney today, however, Justice John Nicholas found that while the Trading Post had been misleading in its conduct regarding the advertisements, Google was not engaged in deceptive conduct as it had merely been the messenger between the advertiser and the consumer — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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