A Class Action Lawsuit For Everyone Upset With Their Google Ranking?

from the what-a-mess dept

It really was just a few weeks ago that we were writing about someone who had sued Google because he was unhappy with his ranking in the search engine. We had noted, at the time, that it wasn't the first time people had made such a claim. While the suit from earlier this month was dropped when it became clear the guy would not win, it appears not everyone has figured that out yet. Google is about to go back to court to defend against similar charges from another company. We had mentioned this lawsuit when it was first filed, and it appears they're throwing every possible charge they can think of against the wall to see what sticks. In this case, it wasn't just a bad ranking, but the fact that the site had been totally removed from Google's index, after Google determined it was too aggressive in trying to shimmy up the list.

Among the charges they're making against Google: this is a violation of free speech (no, seriously), Google is using a monopoly position to harm competitors, it's defamation or libel to remove someone from the index and it violates the Federal Communications Act. All four of these claims are pretty weak, so it seems like this case is unlikely to go very far. However, to make it even more fun, they're trying to get it turned into a class action lawsuit, so that anyone who feels they've been unfairly ranked by Google can join in. Of course, with all these charges and the class action attempt, it certainly sounds like the lawyers are just trying to come up with as much stuff as possible to hope that Google will just settle and they'll get something out of it all. In response to the charges, Google correctly notes that if anyone's free speech is violated, it would be Google's for not being able to rank sites as the company saw fit. How hard is it for companies to recognize that a Google ranking is not an objective fact, and just because you don't like your ranking it doesn't mean you can sue? More importantly, it's just bad business for any company to rely on a single source for most of its business. In this case, the company complains that the bad ranking was damaging, since so much of their traffic came from Google. It's hard to see how it's Google's fault that this company didn't learn how to generate leads and traffic from other sources.

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  • identicon
    I, for one, 28 Jun 2006 @ 7:08pm

    civil legal system out of control

    What is the problem with the American* system of everybody sueing each other all the time?

    You need to look closely at this. It sems there are far too many lawyers in the USA.

    How about a national no-sue day. Then try it for a month. If everybody agrees not to sue anybody else those leeches will all be out of work. Maybe they'll get proper jobs. Then perhaps the cost of sueing people frivolously will become very high and less people will do it.(?) You could start a virtuous circle of legal disarmament quite easily if you stopped being so aggressive towards one another.


    * I should to be very careful not to offend any sensitive reactionaries, but I'll be blunt, I'm not in the business of avoiding offence or pussying about, if you have a problem it's in your inferrence rather than my implication. Last time I visited USA I found you all very good chaps and the countryside was lovely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Proud Canadian, 28 Jun 2006 @ 10:10pm

      Re: civil legal system out of control

      The reason that everybody is so happy sueing everybody else in the states is the gross amount of money that is awarded to the plaintifs. If all you got was the real damaged that you actually suffered and nothing more, nearly all the lawsuits would go away. Because of the large awards, people are gambling that they will get something if they sue; it's nearly a no risk proposition.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Q, 28 Jun 2006 @ 7:29pm

    What if...

    What if Google just decides one day they're tired of being the best search engine and gets rid of everything (even though we know its not going to happen). Are people going to sue them then cause they were the only search engine that brough people to blahblahblah.com and it damaged their business...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jay T., 28 Jun 2006 @ 7:36pm

    To heck with ...

    To heck with killing all the lawyers. We ought to kill all the stupid people that hire the lawyers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    RaYz, 28 Jun 2006 @ 8:24pm

    Got Google?

    I hate when people use up a bunch of their resources to take down or take advantage of another person/company. With all the time and money wasted on trying to do that, we could have already had the cure for cancer or something....sarcastically speaking....
    They should make up a law or something that if someone keeps making frivolous law suits then, they shouldn't be able to ever sue again!!! I am pretty sure there is a statistic out there on how much money and time is wasted in courts fighting nonsense lawsuits!
    Heh, the world is coming to an end as we know it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2006 @ 9:23pm

    I can't believe the nerve of some people. I mean wouldn't you rather save yourself (and your family) the shame of looking stupid than file some lame lawsuit? The sad part is that the companies often settle since it’s often cheaper than fighting in court even if they win. Maybe some Americans have simply replaced shame with greed.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=stupid+lawsuits&btnG=Google+Search

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, 28 Jun 2006 @ 10:29pm

    n00bs

    Seriously, if poeple had even a basic understanding of how a search engine works they would shut up and realise they cannot win, of course, if the judge knows anything about how a search engine works, he should throw the case out of court and get the plantiffs to pay googles costs, plus the wages of the judge and court staff, the paper pushers involved, and a fat fine just to teach them a lesson in how not to make money. (I know a man who used to be a Magistrate in England, he did something of the sort in one case (obviously a much less significant one)).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      TS, 2 Jul 2006 @ 8:56am

      Re: n00bs

      This is bullshit!! It's obvious that Google is not just ranking sites based on popularity, but also based on their opinion (or bias) of a site, and that's not what the average person is looking for. I don't search on google to get their opinion of any particular site, as they stated in their suit, but for the best information available. Google needs to let the information flow from it's database as the world is requesting it, not tainted as they would see fit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan Moutal, 28 Jun 2006 @ 11:22pm

    Sing me up!!

    I'll join this class action lawsuit. I am not happy with my site rankings, my small time blog should be ranked number 1! Ill sue until google complies with my demands

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike, 29 Jun 2006 @ 12:39am

    "it's just bad business for any company to rely on a single source for most of its business"

    This is a good point but in this case there is a problem, I just take Holland as an example. 95% of the students are using Google so in some cases you really depend on google because there is simply no other cheap way next to msn messenger to reach this audiance so targeted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ElectricMayhem, 29 Jun 2006 @ 1:58am

    Sue and be damned

    Many moons ago I recall a case in America concerning a woman, a microwave oven and her poodle. If memory serves, she had been used to bathing said pooch every Thursday and after a brief towel dry, popping it into her oven to finish the job. Pooch loved standing in baking tray whilst warmth radiated around it and dried off its coat to a soft, luxuriant fluff ball.

    Alas, progress took hold and the microwave oven came into being. The woman purchased one and it was duly installed. Come Thursday, pooch was bathed as per usual, towel dried and, yes you’ve guessed it, popped into the microwave to be finished off.

    She sued the manufacturer for failing to include any warning in their manual that it was not suitable to place living beings into the device. She won…..with substantial damages…..and there was born the litigant society that we know today…..

    It is an unfortunate fact of life that there will always be some numbskull around who will blame others for their misery and bad luck rather than look to themselves for the culprit. I have no doubt that God has a whole raft of cases lined up against him by those passing St Peter at the Pearly Gates…..

    Still, it keeps lawyers employed and provides endless dinner party anecdotes so who are we to complain. Frankly, if I were Google, I would say sue and be damned!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Rossiter, 29 Jun 2006 @ 3:00am

    sue them back!!

    What google should do is let the class action lawsuit go ahead then crush them all with HUGE legal fees...hire an IMMENSE legal team running into the 10s of millions of dollars, then even if the class lawsuit is withdrawn, go AGGRESSIVELY after the lawyers that started it and basically drive them into bankruptcy. (And never settle, make sure you push the case all the way so the legal fees are absolutely mind-boggling). That would stop a lot of the anti-google frivolous lawsuits (and probably kill quite a few others into the bargain!)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jim, 29 Jun 2006 @ 3:08am

    Depending on google

    I work for a small company that gets about 90% of their sales through google rankings. They hired me for my marketing experience and when I started the job and presented my well balanced plan for advertising and marketing their product. They kinda just ignored it and told me they wanted me to focus on keeping their google rankings up. They pay me well, but I fear the day that I lose my job because google shifts their ranking too dramatically.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sean, 29 Jun 2006 @ 5:59am

    Frivolous lawsiuts

    In most states here in the good ol' US of A there are frivolous law suit laws. If the judge rules that a lawsuit fits that they can award that the company/individual that is being sued can recover legal fees from whoever is suing them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lisa, 29 Jun 2006 @ 6:32am

    I must admit

    I must admit, I like Google. I like the company, I like the principles behind the company, and I like the people who work there and the knowledge they have. I use Google search engine, Google Earth, I have a Gmail account, and Google Maps is the best (true that, double true). If/When they come out with this new stuff, I will most likely use it.

    Am I feeding the Google craze? Probably. But I know a few people who do work for Google and my understanding is that the ranking is usuall money-fed. The more money you pay, the higher the rank. Now when it comes to outright discrimination or anything extreme that could be deemed libel. I feel it is, in the end, Google's right to alter the rankings. In any other company ANY sort of discrimination or defamation would be untolerated. Those who feel the need to discriminate, defame, slander or hurt other should be fine with the fact that their site comes up at all.

    Now I am definately not saying that it is right to restrict our freedom of speech, and I do not think that is what they are doing. As I said before, those who feel the need to defame, discriminate, slander or whatever should be happy with the fact the their site is up at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Roy, 29 Jun 2006 @ 7:00am

    We need a Google-off

    How about this? For one day, Google pulls every listing and service, except for those which are paid-for (AdSense and such), replacing them with a notice reminding people that if they don't like a free service, they're entitled to a 100% refund. Maybe that would jolt the sue-happy chuckleheads back towards reality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Raekwon, 29 Jun 2006 @ 7:46am

    OMGOOSES

    Can you imagine what kind of precedent that would set if these fucktards actually won? You can sue Google if you don't like your ranking? Shit man, I'll be either #1 on everyone of my domains or I'll be a millionaire from suing Google because of it. Good Deal!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jun 2006 @ 9:50am

    Why not just put good content on your webpages, and then all will be good?!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    guy, 29 Jun 2006 @ 10:28am

    Response to ElectricMayhem: you are a fool.

    http://www.snopes.com/horrors/techno/micropet.htm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Some, 29 Jun 2006 @ 2:06pm

    Search Engine Optimization

    Search Engine Optimization

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ElectricMayhem, 29 Jun 2006 @ 2:26pm

    Response to Guy

    Er...no Guy.... i think you missed my point.....so i shall explain....it comes under the heading of frivolous law suits by time wasting wankers with little brain and a huge greed factor that's fed by a stupid and entirely idiotic legal system in the good ol' US of A.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ElectricMayhem, 30 Jun 2006 @ 2:17am

    Dog & microwave

    well well well.....just goes to show that you cannot believe anything you read in the press.....this was a reported case in the early seventies and covered by quite a few of the British media.....

    Still...my point stands....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    woody7, 30 Jun 2006 @ 6:40am

    Google Suit

    To stop frivolous lawsuits, the looser and their lawyer needs to pay....of course we know this won't happen..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ElectricMayhem, 1 Jul 2006 @ 3:47am

    Dog & Oven

    Ok guys......so what we have is a web site....http://www.snopes.com/horrors/techno/micropet.htm that sets out to debunk 'the myth'.....having now done a little casting about and research, it would appear that the tale re dog and microwave is indeed true....not in all the facts but certainly in broad detail.....so....might i suggest that you do not believe everything you read on the net!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      jsnbase, 7 Jul 2006 @ 10:06am

      Re: Dog & Oven

      The broad details? As in somebody once had a dog that died?

      Snopes.com is pretty darned credible in the urban legend biz. I want you to know that I'm only posting to reiterate the earlier comment that you are, in fact, a fool.

      On the other hand, I am reading your comments on the net, so maybe your advice wasn't so bad after all...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    paisley, 7 Jul 2006 @ 9:04am

    WTF? Google lawsuit

    what? geesh... i can pull first rankings in google anytime i want.. i just follow the rules.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zachary Pavlides, 16 Aug 2006 @ 3:58pm

    Google is unfair

    Google is a very monopostic enterprise the likes of Microsoft. Item 1. First it goes underground and collects data without anyone's authorization or consent. Granted that we benefit some times in searching its engine. Item 2. Like Microsoft their cash rich treasuries allows them to enter and spoil any market they wish. They do that by selling almost worthless clicks for which I paid dearly. Item 3. Entering the market they provide services for free until competitors go broke and then charge for their services. Item 4. As an advertising medium Google is worthless as you have to pay more than you gain from their clicks. They were rated by our computers almost bottom from about 100 ad media. I wish the Federal Trade Commission take notice and act by bringing an anti-competitive and fraud action against them. Our government should wake up to the new wave of computerize services being in posision to exercise monopolies in short time, like google, yohoo and the like who have the power to manipulate the market according to their interests.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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