Judge Rebuffs Search Marketers Suing Google

by , May 15, 2012, 4:56 PM
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A federal judge reaffirmed his earlier ruling in favor of Google in a lawsuit brought by search marketers attempting to bring a class-action lawsuit against Google, stemming from its "parked domains" and "errors" programs.

In a decision issued earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila declined to reconsider an earlier pro-Google decision denying the marketers class-action status.

In that earlier ruling, issued in January, Davila said a class-action lawsuit was inappropriate in this case because "individualized issues of restitution permeate the class claims."

Shortly after that ruling came out, the marketers  suing Google asked Davila to reconsider. They argued that restitution awards could be calculated without individualized inquiries. Alternatively, they asked Davila to certify a class simply for purposes of figuring out whether Google was liable.

Davila rejected both of those arguments, noting that the class-certification question  has "already been thoughtfully decided."

The marketers that sued can still proceed individually, but it's unlikely that individual marketers' monetary damages would approach the cost of litigation. By contrast, in class-action lawsuits, attorneys often are awarded fees as part of the final judgment.

The long-running litigation began in 2008, when several marketers filed lawsuits complaining about Google's AdSense for Domains and AdSense for Errors programs. Those programs often serve ads on typo sites that people land on accidentally.

The marketers argued that ads on those types of sites result in fewer purchases than ads on Google's search results pages. The marketers also claimed that ads on parked domains "could damage their brands."

Google asserted that marketers often benefited from ads on parked domains or error pages. The company also said it told marketers about the programs and allowed them to opt out.

While Google wasn't able to get the lawsuit entirely dismissed, the company prevailed on its argument that the lawsuit shouldn't proceed as a class-action. Google contended that marketers' damages, if any, must be calculated on an individual basis, making the case unsuitable for class-action status.

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