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Judge Won’t Certify Class|in Google AdWords Case

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) - Internet users cannot proceed as a class with claims that Google AdWords deceptively charges for clicks on their advertisements that the web giant puts on error pages, a federal judge ruled.

Google's AdWords program allows users to create online advertisements that are displayed throughout the Google network, such as search pages.

A group of customers filed suit against Google in California's Northern District, claiming the AdWords program was deceptive.

"All AdWords customers were given the choice of advertising in Google's search or content networks, yet Google never disclosed that regardless of which network they chose, Google would place their ads on parked domains or error pages," according to the court's summary of the claims.

A parked domain is a website that has been registered, but has not been developed.

The plaintiffs also claimed Google "purposefully published misleading AdSense policies which prohibited publishers from putting ads on pages lacking content," according to the court.

In determining whether the claims have enough commonality to represent a class, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila considered whether Google's alleged omissions were misleading to a reasonable AdWords customer.

"While this question may weigh in plaintiffs' favor, the court is unconvinced that such commonalities predominate over questions affecting individual members of the putative class," Davila wrote Thursday.

"The question of which advertisers among the hundreds of thousands of proposed class members are even entitled to restitution would require individual inquiries," he added.

Because the process of determining what advertisers "would have paid" under different circumstances requires complex, individual analyses, the judge said class certification would be inappropriate.

A case management conference on the case will occur Feb. 17, the judge said, ordering the parties to file a joint case-management statement by Feb. 10.

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