Google is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the company of failing to pay online entertainment site SuperCrayCray.com more than half a million dollars in ad revenue.
Google argues in court papers filed late last week that it was entitled to withhold AdSense payments to SuperCrayCray.com on the theory that the site's design encouraged users to accidentally click on the ads. “This violated the contract between the parties, and, accordingly, Google terminated plaintiff’s account, withheld the outstanding payments, and began refunding those payments (along with Google’s share of the revenues) to the affected advertisers,” Google says in papers asking U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, Calif. to dismiss the lawsuit.
The litigation dates to January, when SuperCray said in a lawsuit that Google wrongly withheld ad payments. SuperCray said that it didn't encourage accidental clicks or display ads “in such a way that they might have been mistaken for other website content.”
The company also alleged that Google employees told Super Cray more than once that its ads “fully conformed with Google’s AdSense policies.”
Super Cray alleges that it began displaying AdSense ads last September. Soon after joining AdSense, Super Cray spent $300,000 advertising and distributing its own content, according to its court papers. By late October, enough people had clicked on the AdSense ads displayed on Super Cray's site that it accrued $535,000 in revenue, the complaint alleges.
But on Oct. 21, Super Cray received a notification from Google that its account had been suspended due to a layout that encouraged accidental clicks, the company said in a complaint alleging fraud and breach of contract, among other counts.
Super Cray elaborates in an amended complaint filed in March that three Google customer support representatives -- identified in court papers as Ryan J, Roy and Jacky G -- told Super Cray's cofounders in writing last September and October that the AdSense ads “were correctly implemented and did not encourage accidental, invalid clicks.”
The company says that it learned later that those individuals weren't responsible for deciding whether ads complied with Google's AdSense policies.
“It was Google’s policy to have Ryan J, Roy and Jacky G, or any of its other customer support representatives, omit any mention that they had no discretion or authority whatsoever to determine whether an AdSense publisher was actually complying with all AdSense policies,” Super Cray says. “They all knew fully well that a different AdSense team was responsible for determining whether AdSense publishers were complying with AdSense policies and that this different team had sole discretion in approving, disapproving, suspending and banning AdSense publisher accounts,” the company adds.
Google counters in its papers that the customer service representatives explicitly told Super Cray that separate policy specialists decided whether ads complied with the company's policies.
Google also says that those individuals never told Super Cray that its “entire site” was in compliance, or that they had reviewed all of the publishers' pages.
Koh is slated to hold a hearing on the matter in July.