Google Offers Click Fraud Settlement

Google will pay $90 million in order to settle a nationwide class action lawsuit over accusations that it was overcharging advertising customers by billing them for false clicks. The class action suit comes from an Arkansas state court case filed last year.

While the company is attempting to settle all "click fraud" claims going back to 2002, similar claims are still ongoing on other courts across the country.

Click fraud occurs when a person displaying advertising on their pages either manually or automatically clicks a link repeatedly in order to generate revenue. The advertiser is then forced to pay for these false leads.

While Google does not directly participate, the plaintiffs argued that the company does too little to prevent it from occurring.

No cash payment would be given as part of the settlement, but only credits towards advertising as well as payment of all legal fees. Customers would have to apply to be a part of the suit, and the settlement still needs to be approved by the judge overseeing the case.

All advertisers from February 2002 on would be considered a part of the settlement. As part of the terms, Google would extend the normal 60-day false click reporting period all the way back to that date.

A hearing to certify the settlement would be held within the next few weeks.

"We have said for some time that we believe we manage the problem of invalid clicks very well," Google Associate General Counsel Nicole Wong said in a statement. "We will continue to do that, and believe that this settlement is further proof of our willingness to work together with advertisers to reimburse invalid clicks."

The search businesses of Yahoo, Walt Disney, Lycos, LookSmart, and are also named in the lawsuit. At least one, Yahoo, will continue to fight the legal action.

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