Google asks for special leave to appeal in Australia AdWords case

Google lost an appeal against Australia's consumer watchdog, which accused the company of deceptive advertising practices

Google is asking Australia's High Court to hear an appeal over whether it mislead consumers by allowing advertisers to purchase AdWords containing competitors' names and products.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) started legal proceedings against Google in 2007, alleging that the headlines of 11 advertisements comprised business names, product names or web addresses for a competitor's business that had not purchased the AdWords advertisements from Google.

In its defense, Google portrayed itself as a publisher who was not responsible for the content and representations made by those organizations that purchased AdWords.

A Federal Court judge ruled in October 2011 that although some advertisements were misleading, Google has just communicated the representation made by the advertisers.

But the ACCC prevailed in an appeal before the Full Federal Court on April 3. The court found that four advertisements were misleading or deceptive and breached the Trade Practices Act 1974. It ordered Google to put in place a consumer compliance program.

On Monday, Google filed an application asking the High Court for special leave to appeal, according to the [[xref:https://www.comcourts.gov.au/file/Federal/P/NSD1759/2011/actions|Commonwealth Courts website.

The ACCC said in a statement on Thursday that it has "held the view that this case is important in clarifying the advertising practices of search engine providers in the internet age."

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

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Jeremy Kirk

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