Suit over poor Google ranking may go forward

by admin July 1, 2006 at 10:10 am

SAN JOSE, Calif.–A federal judge in California hinted that a parenting Web site that’s suing Google over a poor ranking in the search giant’s massive index would be able to proceed with its lawsuit.

During a hearing here Friday, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel said he’s considering issuing an order that would allow to amend its lawsuit against Google to add more specifics. The parent-focused directory and search engine site claims Google violated antitrust and other laws by handing KinderStart low rankings.

KinderStart alleges that its parenting search engine site suffered an approximate 70 percent drop in monthly traffic in March last year after Google buried its visibility in search results. KinderStart, which claims to have originally been in the first 10 results when Web users scoured the Internet for KinderStart, also saw an 80 percent drop in AdSense revenue.

“What Google is trying to do is take out the competition,” said Gregory Yu, KinderStart’s attorney.

The parenting site alleges that Google engaged in anticompetitive behavior in violation of antitrust laws by removing a competitor from its top search pages in order to maintain its dominance in the search market. During his questioning of the parties, the issue of antitrust appeared to resonate with the judge, who indicated he understood the point KinderStart was trying to make.

While Google and other search engines have been sued over rankings before, no lawsuit of this type appears to have succeeded. That’s in part because search engines can claim to have a First Amendment right to rank Web sites as they see fit–much like a restaurant reviewer or book reviewer has a right to publish its own rankings.

Full story: CNET