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Internet titan Google won an Australian court case Wednesday over sponsored links in its search results, with the nation's highest court ruling it did not engage in conduct that was misleading.
Australia's competition regulator had taken Google to court, alleging that adverts using keywords for Honda, Harvey World Travel, Alpha Dog Training and Just 4X4 Magazine were published by Google and led consumers to rival firms.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) lost the initial case but won an appeal in the Federal Court, which ruled that Google's technology created its search results.
Google had argued that it should not be held responsible for the content of ads on its platform because it was paid for and submitted by the advertisers.
The High Court of Australia overturned the appeal decision on Wednesday, agreeing that the advertisers, not Google, were responsible for the content of so-called sponsored links.
"Google did not create the sponsored links that it published or displayed," the court said.
"Ordinary and reasonable users of the Google search engine would have understood that the representations conveyed by the sponsored links were those of the advertisers, and would not have concluded that Google adopted or endorsed the representations," it added.
"Accordingly, Google did not engage in conduct that was misleading or deceptive."