Google v ACCC

Topics: Advertising, Organic search, Web search engine Pages: 4 (1173 words) Published: September 22, 2014
The case of Google Inc v Australian Competition and Consumer Commission [2013) HCA 1, (Google or ACCC) refers to the law of trade practices explicitly; a breach in misleading or deceptive conduct. This analysis will highlight the issues brought before the court with particular focus on the grey area regarding Google’s input into the creation of the advertisements. Furthermore the commercial and social impact of the case will be examined.

Relevant Facts
ACCC argued that between 2005-2008 the search engine displayed misleading and deceptive links on the results pages of users (French et al. 2013). Google’s advertising service ‘AdWords program’ displays sponsored links that are placed at the top of the search results page, before the organic search results. Kallenbach and Johnshon (2013) explain how the ‘Adwords program’ allows advertisers to pay for ‘sponsored links‘ by selecting keywords compromising of the names of their competitor. For example, STA Travel purchased AdWord ‘Harvey World Travel’ (their competitors name) which resulted in STA website being displayed as a sponsored link when web users searched the term ‘Harvey World Travel’ (Kallenbach and Johnson 2013). This therefore ‘diverted web traffic away from a competitor… (therefore) representing that a false commercial association existed between two companies’ (Petani and Spain 2013). The ACCC upheld that Google had engaged in conduct contrary to statement 52 of the Trade Practice.

Issues
The High Court treatment of Google’s appeal was based on on consideration of three separate issues; ‘Whether Google engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by publishing or displaying sponsored links which contained misleading representations made by advertisers’ (Ashurt 2013) ‘Whether Google adopted or endorsed misleading representations’ (Ashurt 2013)

Ratios Decidendi
The High Court reached their conclusion using the following legal principles to determine that Google did not contravene s 52 of the...
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