Google's Win on Advertising in Australian Court May Prove a Tough Hurdle for Competitors and Foes in a Court of Law
Google's competitors and enemies are legion. Both are now breathing dust clouds as Google has zoomed off at top speed after it's win in an Australian Court about advertising issues, Wednesday, February 6, 2013. The Australian court's decision defined Google's role as it answered these questions: Is Google a publisher? Is Google a purveyor of information? Legally, the answer could mean the difference between a settlement from Google's luscious deep pockets or bupkis (of little value, also in some translations, goat droppings).
Since Google’s rivals and foes are itching to go after Google regardless of position, the unprecedented ruling indicates that Google's pursuers in other parts of the globe, are going to have to be more savvy and astute in mapping out the direction of their litigation. This landmark case will prove a difficult hurdle as Google's counsel will cite and reference the Australian High Court's decision that Google is a purveyor of information, not a publisher. As an information supplier, Google was/is not responsible for the messages created by its paid advertisers.
The decision comes after six years of legal wrangling between Google and Australia's consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The commission alleged that Google's behavior was misleading and deceptive with regard to its listing of paid advertisements. They used search results from 2006 and 2007 as the basis of their case. Their argument was that a search for Honda Australia showed a paid ad for a Honda Competitor, CarSales. According to the commission, this was a deceptive practice because the lead in enticed consumers to conclude that CarSales was linked to Honda Motor Co Ltd., when it wasn't.
Having initially lost in the lower Federal Court, Google's warrant was to set up a compliance program making sure the search engine was not posting misleading and deceptive advertisements. Competitors and foes hoped to capitalize on the previous ruling to further hedge their future bets against Google in a court of law. Wednesday's unanimous five judge decision made the lower court's ruling a historical twip.Though Google will not breathe easily and will continue to watch its back, it is running more freely with the role of information purveyor as its energy booster.Continued on the next page