The case involved Australian man Michael Trkulja who asked for links between him and an underworld criminal boss to be removed by Goggle and when Google failed to act he then took them to court.
The court ruled in favour of Michael Trkulja because he had asked the search engine to remove the links between him and Tony Mokbel earlier which they had failed to do.
Supreme Court Justice David Beach said that the case of defamation was worth 200,000 Australian Dollars but the case also revealed other interesting facts about Google mainly in the way the company responded to the initial complaint.
When Michael Trkulja sent in his complaint to Google via their help email address he was sent a response stating “At this time, Google has decided not to take action based on our policies concerning content removal. Please contact the webmaster of the page in question to have your client’s name removed from the page.”
According to the judge in the case this email could “infer that…Google Inc was well aware of what was being requested of it”.
An American employee of Google did appear in the case, known as Mr Madden-Woods according to The register.
The Judge said that Mr Madden-Woods “conceded the obvious (perhaps some what begrudgingly) that it would not take very much effort to work out, from the page of photographs supplied to Google Inc, the identity of the website that linked the plaintiff’s name to Mr Mokbel and Mr Tanner.
“All one had to do was click on one of the images (the text beneath each image showing that the one web page was involved). At that point it would have been open to Google Inc to block the URL of that page from Google Inc’s searches, in compliance with the plaintiff’s former solicitors request.”
The judge identified clearly that it would have been easy for Google to act on the complaint but that they chose not to.
The large amount of money awarded to Michael Trkulja in the case reflects the popularity of Google as a search engine and therefore the increased chances of the incorrect search results being seen by members of the public.
Justice Beach concluded: “While there was debate before me as to the relative popularity of Google and Yahoo search engines, neither side made any attempt to lead evidence of the precise number of publications brought about by a Yahoo search engine as compared to a Google search engine.
“That said, as was noted by counsel for the plaintiff, in support of a submission that I should find that there was more Google publications than Yahoo publications, while the word “Googling” has entered the vernacular, there is no corresponding word in respect to Yahoo’s products.”
Michael Trkulja had earlier won a similar case against Yahoo and had been awarded damages in the case also.