The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) lost in a court case the regulator filed against search engine giant Google. ACCC complained that Google violated Australia's trade practices law by its using advertisement placements as basis for ranking of search results.
Federal Court Judge John Nicholas dismissed in a decision published Thursday ACCC's lawsuit against Google and order the Australian regulator to pay the legal costs of the 18-month court battle.
ACCC charged that Google misled online searchers by its failure to distinguish search results because of its practice of showing two columns for search results. One column yields basic search result and the other is a list of sponsored links paid for by advertisers.
Google later changed the heading of the second results to Ads from sponsored links after ACCC filed a complaint against the search engine.
ACCC also pointed to Google's use of brands in sponsored links that were not associated with the advertiser. The Federal Court agreed that Google's practice was misleading or deceptive, but absolved the search engine of any responsibility.
"This case is important in relation to clarifying advertising practices in the Internet age.... All businesses involved in placing advertisements on search engines must take care not to mislead or deceive consumers," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims told Current.com.au.
Google's court victory against ACCC is one of the many lawsuits the company is facing as governments investigate it for violation of anti-trust laws because of alleged rigging of search results in favor of other businesses owned by the California-based tech firm.
On Wednesday, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt appeared before a U.S. Senate committee hearing to deny the allegations of unfair trade practices.
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