An Australian court has ruled that Google misled its users in the country by showing "misleading and deceptive" advertisements with its search results. The decision overturns an earlier ruling on the issue following an appeal by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Google was found guilty of displaying advertisements for competitors of the company searched for — for example, a search for Harvey World Travel returned ads for STA Travel with the query included in the headline. The court ruled that this was likely to mislead customers into believing that there was an association between the two companies, and ordered Google to set up a compliance program so that it doesn't make the same infringement in future.
The ACCC's legal action was intended to make Google responsible for its content, and while the cited examples of misleading advertisements were all from a few years back, the ruling sets a potentially important precedent for the future in how Google returns its results. The company, for its part, tells Bloomberg that it has changed the way it displays search results in recent years and is examining its legal options.