Google has taken the fight to U.S. District Court against fraudulent prescription drug sellers that post malware ads on its search site.
has filed a civil lawsuit to strike back against what it calls "rogue
online pharmacies" advertising counterfeit drugs in malware ads on its
search site, Michael Zwibelman, Google's litigation counsel, wrote in a blog post on Sept. 21
an e-mail to eWEEK
, a Google
spokesperson declined to comment further than what was stated in the blog
case, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California,
named one individual and 50 unnamed defendants who violated the AdWords
online-ad policies for advertising drugs and pharmacies not cleared by the
National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, The Wall Street Journal reports.
advertising on Google must be certified by that organization.
Google AdWords online advertising guidelines
follows: "Google AdWords prohibits the promotion of online pharmacies and
of this kind should act as a serious deterrent to anyone thinking about
circumventing our policies to advertise illegally on Google," Zwibelman
company reportedly alleges individuals misspelled pharmaceutical names
deliberately to get around Google's AdWords policies about promoting online
been an ongoing, escalating cat-and-mouse game-as we and others build new
safeguards and guidelines," Zwibelman wrote. "Rogue online pharmacies
always try new tactics to get around those protections and illegally sell drugs
on the Web."
Zwibelman noted an increase in the volume of
rogue pharmacies recently, pointing out their sophisticated methods of
bypassing Google's controls, which include automated keyword blocking. He wrote
that Google will add additional "bad actors" to the lawsuit as the
company comes across them.
Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group
, told eWEEK
that it's unusual for a classified advertising service, online or in
traditional media, to sue an advertiser. Similar cases often involve the
government or consumers suing advertisers rather than the seller of ads, or of
the advertising location, initiating the suit, he noted.
think Google is doing this both to raise the integrity of the site and to make
sure the problem doesn't become so pronounced that the government steps in and
tries to fix it themselves and create a nightmare for Google," Enderle
said. "They're doing the right thing regardless of the reason, and the
consumer can better believe in the integrity of what's being advertised on the
site." Thus, Google's fight against counterfeit ads could ultimately
turn into a competitive advantage.
also filed a suit in December 2009 against a company called Pacific WebWorks to
fight fake money schemes
same day that Google filed its case against the illegal prescription sellers, eNom
, a large provider of Web
addresses, agreed to collaborate with the LegitScript
, an Internet pharmacy-verification service, to
challenge Web sites that host illegal online pharmacies, according to The Wall Street Journal
expects Google to prevail in this case and hinted that this could lead to a
criminal case. "There's a package of evidence that a district attorney
could carry relatively inexpensively into court and charge the individual
criminally," Enderle said. "This could prepackage a criminal case if
they do it right and create the deterrent that they want."
drug distribution is a continuing problem for the health care industry. On July
26 Oracle launched its Pedigree and Serialization Manager
to curb counterfeit drugs in the pharmaceutical supply
chain. "Rogue pharmacies are bad for our users, for
legitimate online pharmacies and for the entire e-commerce industry-so we are
going to keep investing time and money to stop these kinds of harmful
practices," Google's Zwibelman concluded.