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Google to sue ‘rogue pharmacies’

ah, how times have changed!

     
11:13 pm on Sep 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator bakedjake is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



This should make some old timers chuckle:

Google is taking legal action in an attempt to stem the tide of rogue pharmacies advertising on its sites.

The search engine filed a suit in a US federal court on Tuesday against advertisers which the search company believes have broken its rules, in an open-ended action which will expand as it catches more offenders.


Google to sue ‘rogue pharmacies’ [ft.com]
3:32 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



That article reads like Google doesn't understand the difference between 'legal' and 'Google's guidelines'.

Rhetorical question, but why don't they just not allow them to advertise? Seems pretty straightforward to me.
3:42 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator bakedjake is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I think the issue is that many of those 'rogue pharmacies' have figured out ways to skirt Google's advertising guidelines and automated measures - so they're suing for breach of contract likely to deter others from doing the same.

Of course if they can pass information up to the relevant governmental institutions I'm sure they wouldn't mind the feds doing some work for them, too. :) Civil litigation may lead to criminal prosecution, serving as a further deterrent, and advertising you're prosecuting civil issues will get the attention of the authorities.

I think the point is that Google does not want to be seen as aiding and abetting illegal activity, and this makes it clear which side of the fence they're on. It's one thing to say "they're doing it even though we disallow it and try to stop them but still collect their money in some circumstances where we're ignorant of what's going on", it's another entirely to say "we disallow it, and when we find out about it we sue them".
9:51 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I think it shows that google is overwhelmed by fraudulent advertisers. Suing them sounds rather like a desperate measure. What will google do about advertisers from outside the US? It can't sue them all now can it?
10:46 pm on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Not pharma, but sometimes where Google doesn't act fast enough, some companies have decided to apply a scorched-earth policy by using a very large amount of DMCA requests.

This is especially true with several companies fighting the trade in fake goods. Check Google results for "Louboutin", where you can see that very many results have been deleted from every page of the SERP; many thousands of deleted results in all.
12:46 am on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)



How does Google know who is rogue? Are they using customer feedback or conducting their own investigations and checking business licenses?
1:33 am on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



I read that and I have trouble wrapping my head around "Google guidelines" being law.

a) If you break the guidelines using their automated system the system needs fixing.
b) If you break the guidelines you can expect a ban but Google can't create criminal law out of thin air to serve its own purposes.
c) A judge is going to be harsh with Google for making it possible to do in the first place since Google controls the medium. "Fix your methods instead of wasting my time, I'm not the Google police".

This won't end well.
11:26 am on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Its not criminal law, its a civil lawsuit - its quite acceptable in business that if you breach a contract and damage the other party in the process you may be sued.
3:09 pm on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Its not criminal law, its a civil lawsuit - its quite acceptable in business that if you breach a contract and damage the other party in the process you may be sued.

Sure. And as noted, the easy fix is for Google to not do business with these people. It's Google's problem if their vetting system sucks. Quit tying up the legal system because you're unable to determine who you want to do business with.
4:08 pm on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



For years Google has required anyone advertising pharmaceuticals to sign up to a "Pharmacy Checker" service; EVEN AFFLIATES!

The PharmacyChecker Verification Program was established in 2003 to help consumers find qualified online pharmacies and is the only independent evaluator of U.S. and non-U.S. online pharmacies.


In that era I was using Adwords to advertise a legitimate pharmacy, but $50 a month at that time kills a small business. So no more Adwords advertising for pharmacies. I was directly contacted by Google at the time saying I must sign up with one of these services or discontinue this type of ad.

So the Pharmacy Checker requirement gives Google substantial information about advertisers!

At the time I felt is was extortion! But it's in the contract somewhere; don't feel like wasting my time finding it!
4:19 pm on Sep 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Oh here's another good tidbit. I purchase from one of these online pharmacies and have for years. Many online pharmacies allowed a fax (copy) of a prescription. Google mandated that any pharmacy using Adwords to advertise, must require the purchaser provide an original prescription. Shortly after Google instituted this policy for pharmacies using Adwords, my pharmacy began requiring original prescriptions! And of course they do advertise on Adwords. This to me seems "almost" monopolistic. Oh well, we're all safer?

Off topic:
A "script" used to be a document that made sure you got the correct drug, not a flagrant control mechanism. The FDA has gone so far in this extreme it is helping drug makers protect their patents, which even the patent office does not do! In many cases a drug will not go "Over the counter" until the patent expires. Why is this?
12:42 am on Sep 25, 2010 (gmt 0)



Off topic:
A "script" used to be a document that made sure you got the correct drug, not a flagrant control mechanism. The FDA has gone so far in this extreme it is helping drug makers protect their patents, which even the patent office does not do! In many cases a drug will not go "Over the counter" until the patent expires. Why is this?


How do you think drugs are invented? Spend some time on biotech company boards on Y! Finance and you will see why they need patent protection. It takes $ hundreds of millions of dollars to get a drug to the market, and most fail before that, along with the companies.

Now regarding Google this seems dumb to me. Pharmas are trying to see if Google accepts their ads, that's all. It's like NBC suing a strip club for trying to run an ad when NBC said that no strip club ads will be accepted. So, don't accept it.
 

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