UPDATED: The High Court has ruled Google’s practice of allowing competitors to buy up rival’s trading names on ad words is not illegal, handing a massive victory to the search giant.
Last April the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission won a six-year case against the world’s largest search provider, but Google was given special leave to appeal to the High Court on the matter.
Today the judges have ruled Google was not wrong to allow Telstra’s online classifieds arm TradingPost to buy up the names of rival car dealers Kloster Ford and Charlestown Toyota.
The move meant TradingPost came out on top on searches on Google for those company names.
The High Court's decision means that the search giant is not responsible for ads that may be considered misleading.
In a statement the High Court said: "Google did not create the sponsored links that it published or displayed. Ordinary and reasonable users of the Google search engine would have understood that the representations conveyed by the sponsored links were those of the advertisers, and would not have concluded that Google adopted or endorsed the representations. Accordingly, Google did not engage in conduct that was misleading or deceptive."
A Google spokesperson said: “We welcome the High Court’s unanimous decision that Google cannot be held responsible for the ads that advertisers create for Google's search engine."
The ruling will come as a relief to search providers in Australia, who would have been forced to rethink their business practices, and possibly overhaul their sophisticated algorithms to avoid more potential legal strife.