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Google wins ACCC court battle

Google wins ACCC court battle

Gilbert + Tobin has successfully acted for Google in a case brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which alleged that it ran misleading advertisements.The Federal…

Gilbert + Tobin has successfully acted for Google in a case brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which alleged that it ran misleading advertisements.

The Federal Court handed down its decision on 22 September in Google's favour, unanimously dismissing all the ACCC's claims.

The case alleged that Google had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by failing to sufficiently distinguish advertisements from 'organic' search results.

Litigation partners Colleen Platford and Andrew Floro led a team of lawyers representing Google, including Graeme Edgerton, Simon Burnett, Kate Meikle and Matt Mackenzie. They instructed senior counsel Tony Bannon of Sydney's Tenth Floor Chambers.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth partner Richard Flitcroft represented the ACCC and instructed senior counsel Christine Adamson of Banco Chambers in Sydney.

Justice Nicholas found that the use of the word 'advertisement', rather than 'sponsored links', might reduce user confusion, but held that Google's presentation of search results did not breach the Trade Practices Act as most users could appreciate that 'sponsored links' were in fact advertisements.

Since the ACCC instituted the proceedings, Google has changed the description of its advertisements from 'sponsored links' to 'ads' on its search results page. The internet giant's lawyers are reportedly still examining the judgment and said that Google's guiding principle is that advertising should be "relevant and useful".

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement that the case was important for clarifying advertising practices in the internet age.

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