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Google succeeds against ACCC in High Court’s AdWords decision

Today’s High Court decision in favour of Google brings to an end six years of litigation between the ACCC and Google.


The broad issue before the Court was whether or not Google was responsible for the misleading implied representations made by the advertisements appearing through its AdWords service. Adwords is a key revenue source for the company. It allows advertisers to bid for ad-space triggered by a particular search terms.


The High Court’s summary indicates that the Court’s view was that Google’s “users would have understood that the representations conveyed by the sponsored links were those of the advertisers” not endorsed by Google.


This decision follows on from last year’s High Court’s decision on ISP iiNet (see our summary at and highlights the need for an alternative response to intermediary liability issues.


Brief history of litigation:


• The ACCC initiated the litigation in the Federal Court, which ruled in favour of Google, finding that although several sponsored link advertisements were misleading or deceptive, Google had not made the representations and was merely communicating them to the user as an intermediary.


• This decision was appealed to the Full Federal Court, which overturned the earlier decision finding that Google had engaged in misleading conduct by providing the sponsored links as a response to users’ queries.


An in-depth analysis of this decision will be forthcoming and more information on the background to this case may be found in our article at:


Read the High Court’s summary at:


Read the High Court’s judgment at: