Google misled consumers through AdWords

Tuesday 3 April 2012 @ 1.54 p.m. | Trade & Commerce

The full bench of the Federal Court has found that Google misled consumers through its advertised search results.

The case centred around sponsored links in Google search results through its AdWords program by online trading company Trading Post and STA Travel. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) alleged that because the headline of an advertisement link in Google search results often referred to the business name that a person was searching for alone, and then redirected to the Trading Post or STA website, which had no affiliation with the real business, Google and Trading Post were engaged in deceptive conduct.

In his ruling in September 2011, 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.

"Google merely communicated what Trading Post represented without adopting or endorsing any of it," Nicholas said.

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