Google has been cleared by the Ausralian High Court of engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct over sponsored links on the search engine.
Australia's highest court on Wednesday upheld Google's appeal from a previous judgment of Australia's Full Federal Court which had found that Google had breached trade law by engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct.
Google's was taken to court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over the way search results were displayed.
In April, a federal court ruled that Google had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct with four ads that appeared on its Google Australia website. The advertisers used the names of competitors as keywords to trigger their own ads appearing.
Google argued that it was not responsible for the content of the ads, and therefore couldn't be found to have violated the act.
The High Court on Wednesday sided with Google, stating in its ruling that the search engine is not unlike newspapers or broadcasters that publish th
e ads of others.
Google said in a statement that it welcomed the decision.
The ACCC said it would carefully review the judgment of the High Court "to understand whether it has broader ramifications and will consider any consequences for enforcement of the Australian Consumer Law."
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said, "The ACCC took these proceedings to clarify the law relating to advertising practices in the internet age. Specifically, we considered that providers of online content should be accountable for misleading or deceptive conduct when they have significant control over what is delivered."
"The High Court?s decision focused only on Google?s conduct. In the facts and circumstances of this case the High Court has determined that Google did not itself engage in misleading or deceptive conduct," Mr Sims said.
"It was not disputed in the High Court that the representations made in sponsored links by advertisers were misleading or deceptive."
"It remains the case that all businesses involved in placing advertisements on search engines must take care not to mislead or deceive consumers," Mr Sims said.