The Sydney court on appeal today ruled the search giant had failed to adequately distinguish advertisements from search results and had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had first presented examples of search results being redirected to websites which had no affiliation with the initial search in September 2011 with the court dismissing the claim.
However, today the court overturned the earlier decision and said Google had “engaged in conduct that was misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead”.
The court found advertisements with the headline of “Harvey World Travel” or “Harvey World” that redirected to STA Travel website were in breach of section 52 of the Trade Practices Act.
An ad headlined with “Honda.com.au” that redirected to car trading website CarSales, ads headlined “Alpha Dog Training” that linked to The Dog Trainer, and ads headlined “Just 4x4s Magazine” that redirected to the Trading Post website were also in breach of the Trade Practices Act.
The court ordered that Google pay the ACCC’s costs.
A spokesman for Google told The Australian that the company was disappointed with the judgment.
“We are disappointed by the Federal Court’s decision that Google should be responsible for the content of four particular ads on its platform,” the spokesman said.