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Judge to Hear Objections to Google Settlement

July 24, 2006|From the Associated Press

An Arkansas judge begins weighing objections this week to a $90-million class-action settlement between Internet search leader Google Inc. and advertisers who say they were victims of "click fraud."

Circuit Judge Joe Griffin has given preliminary approval to the settlement in the case against the search engine company, but at least 51 objections have been lodged.

The two-day hearing in Little Rock begins today.

Under the $90-million settlement -- of which a third will be awarded to lawyers -- thousands of advertisers worldwide will have a $60-million fund against which they can file a claim.

No one will receive cash. Instead, advertisers will receive advertising credits for future use with Google.

Lane's Gifts & Collectibles of Texarkana, Ark., filed the lawsuit last year, alleging that Google improperly charged advertisers for fraudulent website clicks that drove up advertising bills.

Advertisers say Google charged them for each click by a potential consumer that the advertisers allege were actually swindlers or mischief makers who repeatedly clicked on a link.

An independent report filed in court last week said that although Google appeared to be doing reasonably well protecting advertisers from scam artists, it remained unclear how much the system was being bilked under the ruse.

Since 2001, the ads have generated nearly $16 billion in revenue for Google and its partners, turning the Mountain View, Calif.-based company into one of the world's most prized businesses.

In the lawsuit, some advertisers said the settlement shifted the burden of proof to class members because they would have to certify the number of bogus clicks.

Google's attorneys have said the settlement is fair.

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