In the “Finally!” department, Google is taking legal action against advertisers who used Google’s name and logos to promote their get-rich-quick scams. The “Make Money on Google” ads were rampant in both search and display advertising in the first half of this year. Google cracked down on the search ads in July, but naturally, the scams and the sites continued to flourish.
Google, like a good trademark holder, has finally come to its senses and is now suing the scammers for using its name in vain. They’ve filed suit (PDF) against Pacific WebWorks and other unnamed defendants for a number of counts, including trademark infringement, trademark dilution, cyberpiracy and unfair competition.
The scams worked by advertising that buyers could “make money from Google.” The buyers purchased a “free” kit to teach them how to do this, paying a nominal fee and S&H. However, Google contends in the suit, buyers received nothing of value and were subjected to high recurring charges on their cards. Some buyers even contacted Google for refunds or to stop the recurring fees—another reason why Google feels compelled to sue now.
Pacific WebWorks was slapped with a class action suit last month in Illinois, but the suit sought no injunction to stop their advertising. Google’s, filed in Utah, naturally does petition for an injunction to stop the false advertising until the trial can ascertain whether the claims are true.
The unnamed defendants (listed as “Does 1-50″ in the complaint) are kind of like placeholder defendants. Google admits in the complaint that they don’t know everyone who’s running this scam, but that they will amend the complaint once they do. “Upon information and belief,” Google says that the other defendants are materially connected with Pacific WebWorks, though they appear to operate as separate companies. The separate entities use the same website templates, testimonials and other information to purvey their scams.
What do you think? Will Google win? And what took them so long?