March 2, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – This isn’t the first time that the Google AdWords online marketing platform has come under legal fire, and, being the world’s dominant online marketing brand, it almost certainly won’t be the last. But the latest court case involving the Internet’s golden child, and the skill and savvy that Google has so far shown in combating it, indicates that Google will continue to come out on top in its legal challenges. All the same, some interesting, and even uncomfortable, questions are being raised.
In a long-standing case that’s been in the headlines for a whole, “Flowbee v. Google”, it looks like Google will come out ahead through legal maneuvering and the foresight of its contract building. The search engine giant has successfully transferred the case from Texas to California “by invoking the venue selection clause in its AdWords contract,” writes Internet law blogger Eric Goldman. That points to yet another situation where Google may win out because of its expertly written contracts, which seem to predict the possbility of such lawsuits.
“Having successfully transferred the case, Google then filed its answer and a counterclaim that Flowbee breached the mandatory venue clause by suing Google in Southern District of Texas,” Goldman writes. “This is at least the second time Google has tried this type of contract breach claim … In [the] Flowbee [case], Google takes the position that bringing a suit in the wrong venue is an actionable contract breach. … Google is walking an arguably duplicitous line.”
In a more recent case against Google AdWords, a search marketer called myTriggers has been alleging that Google violated antitrust laws when it increased the cost of the marketer’s pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
The myTriggers case, filed in February in an Ohio state court, specifically accuses Google of illegally dropping the myTriggers quality score “to ensure that Google can continue to exert control over search advertising,” according to Online Media Daily. myTriggers claims that this unlawful act resulted in a quality score change that increased the site’s costs by as much as 10,000%.
What’s the nature of these attacks? Is it simply because Google is the big kid on the block, that second-tier Internet marketing companies hope to score an easy gain by filing hard-to-prove lawsuits? Or, as Google becomes more and more dominant, could it really be overstepping the boundaries of business ethics in a way that’s legitimately shortchanging these smaller Internet marketing companies? The answer may be a long time coming; even as these cases are resolved, new ones are bound to pop up, and it may take a while to discover what’s really going on. And the fact that Google tends to come out ahead because of its legal expertise, rather than being “right” in the legal sense, is raising many eyebrows throughout cyberspace.
According to Eric Goldman, there are, additionally, some half-dozen or so pending Google AdWords cases in the works. See the list here.