The Australian High Court has passed a ruling that Google did not mislead its viewers with paid search ads and that the company was not guilty of deception since it did not create those ads.
The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed in 2007 against Google by the Australian Competition and Commission. The lawsuit stated that users searching for “Honda” were shown sponsored links that led them to believe that they would be taken to Honda.com.au, but were instead led to a Car Sales site.
There were four other cases filed in Australia from 2005 to 2008, which were ruled against Google by a Federal Court in April 2012. In one case, a television broadcaster was found guilty of displaying a deceptive ad. However, the Australian High Court ruling has overturned all rulings against Google.
The High Court ruling stated that Google was not the creator of the sponsored links and ads that were displayed. In addition, the ruling stated that reasonable and regular Google users would have comprehended that sponsored ads and links were posted by advertisers. They would not have assumed that these sponsored ads and links were endorsed or adopted by Google. In short, Google did not mislead its users through sponsored ads.
Google’s attorneys stated that this was a benchmark case ruling that was important for Australia and the world in relation to online advertising practices as well as the responsibility of the host website that displayed third party content.