AdWords is Google's advertising platform. When businesses
advertise with AdWords, they select words or phrases (called
"keywords") that are related to their businesses, or
their products or services. These keywords are used to create
advertisements which are displayed in the form of "sponsored
links" to the right, and above, the "organic" search
results generated in response to a Google user's search
In the recent case of the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission (ACCC) vs. Trading Post and Google Inc,
the ACCC challenged the use by Trading Post of the keywords
"Kloster Ford", which was the name of a car dealership in
Newcastle, as misleading conduct in breach of the then Trade
Practices Act. When "Kloster Ford" was searched for
using the Google search engine, this advertisement appeared:
www.tradingpost.com.au New/Used Fords – Search 90,000 +
auto ads online.
Great finds daily!
The ACCC's challenge
The ACCC argued that Trading Post's use of "Kloster
Ford" in its sponsored link was misleading and deceptive as it
represented that there was an association or affiliation between
Trading Post and Kloster Ford and the ad suggested that information
regarding Kloster Ford or Kloster Ford car sales could be found on
the Trading Post website, when it could not.
What the Federal Court found
The Court held that while Google provided the technical
facilities that permitted the relevant advertisement to be seen or
heard, it did not follow that Google, by publishing or broadcasting
the ads, had thereby endorsed or adopted the information conveyed.
Consumers would understand that the message being conveyed to them
was an advertisement from the advertiser, rather than the
The Court found that it was Trading Post that had engaged in
misleading and deceptive conduct by causing the words "Kloster
Ford" to be used by AdWords in generating "sponsored
links", when there was no affiliation, or association between
Trading Post and Kloster Ford, nor any information regarding
Kloster Ford at www.tradingpost.com.au.
What this means for your business
This case is significant for all businesses that place
advertisements through Google AdWords or other internet search
In particular, you should ensure that any keywords selected for
your AdWords campaign are not the product names, trading names or
website addresses of a competitor, or you risk breaching consumer
Businesses should also be vigilant about monitoring the use of
their own business names, brand names and website addresses by
Contributing author: Rebecca Currey, Graduate
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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