Commentary

Google Defeats Challenge To Search Results, Ad Policies

Back in 2006, when the listings site Kinderstart found itself excluded from Google's organic search results, the site filed a federal lawsuit against the search company.

Kinderstart alleged that Google violated a host of laws, including those prohibiting companies from using their market power to harm potential competitors.

Things didn't turn out well for Kinderstart. In 2007, U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel not only threw out the case, but ordered Kinderstart's lawyer to pay Google $7,500 in sanctions.

Several years later, the comparative shopping company myTriggers brought an antitrust lawsuit against Google in Ohio. That case centered on the cost of paid search ads, as opposed to organic search results, but the gist of the allegations was similar: My Triggers said Google acted anti-competitively by increasing the cost-per-click it charged myTriggers.

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Judge John Bessey in Franklin County dismissed that lawsuit in 2011. MyTriggers appealed, but dropped the case last year, according to court records.

Last week, Google once again defeated a challenge to its practices.

This latest lawsuit was by the operator of CoastNews, which reportedly alleged that the site appeared too far down in Google's organic search results. CoastNews's operator also alleged that Google stopped serving AdSense ads on the site because it had photos from a nudist colony. Those photos led Google to deem the site pornographic, according to the legal papers.

Google argued that California's anti-SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) law required the judge to dismiss the case. “At base, plaintiff claims that his website is entitled to receive better treatment in Google's search results and that he is entitled to receive advertisements regardless of Google's policy not to serve ads on pages containing objectionable content,” Google wrote in its motion. “Both of these claims plainly arise from Google's exercise of constitutionally protected free speech rights.”

Last week, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith sided with Google and granted the company's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

 

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