Google Adwords Faces Class Suit

Google online advertisers won reinstatement of a class action suit that Google charged them for ads that appeared on parked domain pages, undeveloped websites and error pages.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court Monday that had denied class-action status in the case.

The lawsuit says Google misled advertisers by failing to disclose the placement of AdWords ads on the dead pages.  The lawsuit seeks restitution.

Adwords was an auction-based program that acted as a middleman between internet advertisers and website owners by placing ads on various pages using an algorithm that determined the placement and price of the ad.

Between 2004 and 2008, online advertisers used AdWords, but say what they got were a number of the ads that appeared on parked domains or error pages, which means no one saw the ads.

The advertisers sued claiming unfair competition and failure to disclose the issue.

The trial judge rejected class certification because the class failed to show a common issue predominated, meaning questions could not be resolved about which advertisers were entitled to restitution and the amount of restitution each might be owed.

The appeals court disagreed.

The trial judge conflated a restitution calculation with a liability inquiry.  It sent the case back for reconsideration.

Judge Richard Paez wrote the decision, joined by Judge Wallace Tashima and visiting Judge Gordon Quist of Michigan.

Case: Pulaski v. Google, No. 12-16752


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