Lauren_Cassim_phOn 11 September 2012, the High Court of Australia (the Australian UKSC equivalent) heard the case of Google Inc v Australian Competition and Consumer Commission [2012] HCATrans 224. Google Inc appealed to the High Court in an attempt to restore the decision of the first instance judge in the Federal Court (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Trading Post Australia Pty Ltd [2011] FCA 1086), which had been appealed successfully by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in the Full Court (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Google Inc [2012] FCAFC 49).

The ACCC claimed that particular advertising search results or sponsored links communicated to the user by Google, via their search engine (between 2005-2008), contained misleading and deceptive representations. The ACCC asserted that this meant Google itself had contravened the Trade Practices Act 1974, s 52.

At issue was whether Google, and not the advertiser who had paid for and created sponsored links using Google’s Adwords program, had engaged in deceptive and misleading conduct by communicating them.

Unanimously allowing the appeal, it was held that Google is just “a means of communication between advertisers and consumers”; it “does not create, in any authorial sense, the sponsored links that it publishes or displays”; and that most users of the search engine would recognise that it was not Google who were making the representations in the sponsored links.

The link to the case can be found here.