Australia Takes Google to Court Over Sponsored Links

Jul 13, 2007 • 10:32 am | comments (1) by | Filed Under Google Ads (AdWords)

The forum community is buzzing about Australia's recent decision to sue Google over deceptive search ads.

WebmasterWorld goes into the suit in more detail, citing a Sydney Morning Herald news article:

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) said the case arose in 2005 when Google's search engine listed two car dealerships from the New South Wales city of Newcastle as sponsored links, which are paid for by companies to attract Internet users.

However, the links fed through to the website of a rival to the dealerships, the classifieds magazine "Trading Post", which competes with them for automotive sales.

"The ACCC is alleging that Google, by failing to adequately distinguish sponsored links from 'organic' search results, has engaged in and continues to engage in misleading and deceptive conduct," the regulator said in a statement.

The question is: why Google? They specifically distinguish their sponsored results from organic listings. Some people think it's an issue that can be possibly a problem for visually impaired users.

But more people see that it's a problem of trademark bidding, which is a definite problem that we've covered.

DigitalPoint Forums and Search Engine Watch Forums members point out that the ACCC is looking for "injunctions restraining Google from publishing sponsored links of advertisers representing an association, sponsorship or affiliation where one does not exist." At Search Engine Watch, Chris_D asks how Google is possibly supposed to know about these sponsorships or affiliations. I agree; whose responsibility is it? There are ways to file complaints when competitors bid on your trademarks.

Forum discussion continues at WebmasterWorld, DigitalPoint Forums, and Search Engine Watch Forums.

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