Internet Law

Microsoft Sues 3 in Landmark 'Click Fraud' Web Ad Enforcement Case

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In a lawsuit that reportedly may be the first of its kind, Microsoft has sued three individuals in the same family alleging that they fraudulently boosted the rankings of their auto insurance and World of Warcraft-related websites on the computer goliath’s search engine. At the time of the claimed Internet misconduct, it was known as Live Search, but it has since been rebranded as Bing.

The federal court suit, which was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, is the first ever pursued by the company concerning suspected click fraud, reports the Seattle Times.

In it, Microsoft alleges that Melanie Suen and her sons Eric and Gordon Lam interfered with the company’s relationship with other advertisers by repeatedly clicking on Internet links without having any legitimate interest in actually seeing the linked website, the article recounts.

“Part of our responsibility as an industry leader is to bring enforcement in this area,” associate general counsel Tim Cranton of Microsoft tells the newspaper. “What we’ve seen in this particular area of online advertising is there is a significant amount of fraud.”

Gordon Lam declined to comment to the Seattle Times, and it appears that the newspaper did not reach the other two defendants.

The lawsuit is seeking $750,000 in damages, reports a New York Times article on the litigation.

“We have decided to become more active in the commercial fraud area on the enforcement side,” Cranton tells the New York Times. “The theory is you can change the economics around crime or fraud by making it more expensive.”

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