For six-years Google and Australia's consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), have been at odds in the courts. The ACCC accused Google of engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct over paid advertisements.
The case related to search results in 2006 and 2007, where a search for Honda Australia would show a paid advertisement for a Honda competitor, CarSales. The ACCC said the ads were deceptive, as they suggested CarSales was linked to Honda. The view had some support from Australia’s Federal court, which agreed with the ACCC. The lower court had ordered Google to set up a compliance program to make sure paid advertisements on its search engine were not misleading.
However five judges of Australia's High Court ruled in favor of Google and over turned the case. The court said Google did not create the sponsored links and the company was not responsible for messages in the links.
"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," the court said.