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This article was published on September 22, 2011

Google wins legal fight with Australian regulator over Sponsored Links

Google wins legal fight with Australian regulator over Sponsored Links Image by: Sean Gallup
Matt Brian
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Matt Brian

Matt is the former News Editor for The Next Web. You can follow him on Twitter, subscribe to his updates on Facebook and catch up with him Matt is the former News Editor for The Next Web. You can follow him on Twitter, subscribe to his updates on Facebook and catch up with him on Google+.

In an announcement by the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Google has won a legal fight where it was accused by the Australian regulator of misleading customers by failing to adequately distinguish between advertisements and organic search results.

The case, which first began in March 2010, argued that Google played a part in the publication of advertisements on its search pages, where the headline, description and link didn’t actually represent the company placing the ad, suggesting that not only was the advertiser engaging in false advertising and deceptive conduct, Google was also.

However, an Australian judge ruled that now Google has changed its wording from Sponsored Links to Ads, the search company may have eliminated or reduced confusion in the minds of its users. The judge also said that most users would also associate the words “Sponsored Links” with advertisements.

The ACC published an overview of the ruling on its website, stating:

The ACCC alleged that as a result of Google’s significant input into advertisements which appear on its search results pages, it was not only the advertiser but also Google which made the representations found to have breached the Act.   However, Justice Nicholas found that Google was “merely communicating” the representations without adopting or endorsing any of them.

Google initiated a new ‘Business Names Policy” on the first day of the hearing in March, prohibiting the user of unrelated business names in the headlines of advertisements, which was then rolled out worldwide in the following months.