Lawyer sues Google over unfruitful ads

An attorney has sued Google over ads placed on the Internet's low-rent district, such as error pages for nonexistent Web sites. The ads cost $136.11 but were a bust.

Update at 10:44 a.m. PDT: I added Google's "no comment." Update at 9:50 a.m. PDT: I added more details from the complaint.

Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Stephen Shankland/CNET News.com

AttorneyHal K. Levitte has sued Google over ads that cost $136.11 but that allegedly didn't yield any useful results.

The suit was first reported by InformationWeek.

Google placed 202,528 Levitte International ads shown in relation to parked domain pages--Internet addresses that have been registered but that have no Web pages--and 1,009 ads on error pages that can be shown when people type invalid URLs into their browsers, according to the report of the suit. From the ads, Levitte got 668 clicks from the parked pages and 25 clicks from the error pages, but no conversions from any of that into useful business leads.

"Google's conduct is unfair because Google fails to disclose that customers' ads are placed on parked domains and error page sites, and Google does not provide an effective means for customers to preclude those ads from appearing on these sites. In fact, until March 2008, Google provided no means at all for customers to exclude their ads from appearing on these sites," the complaint said.

"Domain and error page ads accounted for approximately 16.2 percent of all clicks on plaintiff's ads during his campaign, yet did not result in a single person completing the online form on the site, or contacting the plaintiff by phone or e-mail," the complaint said.

Google has no comment until it reviews the complaint, said spokesman Jon Murchinson.

Levitte accuses Google of fraud, business code violations, and unjust enrichment in the complaint. The suit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., and seeks class action status.

The ads cost $136.11, part of a $887.67 Levitte ad campaign on Google that lasted from June 1, 2007, to August 18, 2007, the report said.

The suit seeks compensatory damages, an injunction prohibiting the practices under question, and reimbursement for legal expenses.

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About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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