Google beats ACCC in High Court

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Google beats ACCC in High Court

Google has emerged victorious from a six-year legal battle against the ACCC over alleged misleading advertising.

The case began in the Federal Court in July 2007, when the ACCC claimed that Google was misleading customers by returning advertisements for one company when a search engine query for its competitor was entered.

The ACCC's allegations pertained to Google's sponsored links between 2005 and 2008, which were created by, or at the direction of, advertisers, and displayed on the same page as organic search results.

By publishing or displaying those search results, Google was said to have contravened s 52 of Australia's Trade Practices Act, which provided that a corporation should not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive.

The ACCC's claims were dismissed initially by the Federal Court in late 2011, but a subsequent appeal saw Google held liable by the full Federal Court in April 2012.

The High Court today unanimously overturned the decision following a Google appeal, with judges finding that Google did not create the sponsored links that it published or displayed. 

“Ordinary and reasonable users of the Google search engine would have understood that the representations conveyed by the sponsored links were those of the advertisers, and would not have concluded that Google adopted or endorsed the representations,” the High Court’s judgement summary read. 

Accordingly, the High Court concluded Google did not engage in conduct that was misleading or deceptive.

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