More Misplaced Google Ad Lawsuits… This Time In Australia
from the everybody-sue-Google-now dept
Just as Google has settled the longstanding keyword trademark lawsuit from American Blinds (and as a new one starts up from American Airlines) in the US, it appears that Google is facing a similar challenge down under. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission is suing Google for supposedly deceptive ad practices, but the details suggest that perhaps the ACCC is a bit confused. It seems to be complaining about a few different things, and it’s worth separating those out. First, it appears that an organization named Trading Post, which appears to be an online classifieds site, bought deceptive ads on Google, pretending to be local Australian car dealerships. This can absolutely be seen as trademark infringement if the ads were (as the ACCC accuses) made to look as if they pointed directly to the dealership websites, rather than a Trading Post page. However, the infringement is by Trading Post — not Google. ACCC is suing both, but it’s hard to see why Google should be responsible for the actions of an advertiser.
The second complaint is even more bizarre. ACCC claims that Google hasn’t done enough to distinguish the top ad slots from the organic search results. That seems like a stretch. Google has always done a good job highlighting and marking the listings that were ads, and you’d have to have pretty bad eyesight not to realize which slots are for ads and which are for organic listings. Nevertheless, ACCC claims that Google does not make this clear and that people would think the sponsored listings were the top organic listings. Of course, it’s hard to see how they can back that up, since the sponsored slots are so well marked. However, why let little things like facts get in the way of a chance to sue the almighty Google?
Update: Well, that was fast. It looks like the judge in the case agrees with us, as he wasted no time slapping down the ACCC’s arguments as “incomprehensible,” “opaque,” and “somewhat repetitious.”