Tuesday 21 November 2017

Hotel settles defamation case over Google search

Aoife Finneran

AN action by the owners of a four-star hotel against internet giant Google has been settled at the Commercial Court.

Ballymascanlon House Hotel in Co Louth had brought proceedings against Google over alleged defamation of the hotel's business and reputation via Google's web search service.

Yesterday, Hugh Mohan, for Ballymascanlon, said the case had been settled and could be struck out. No terms of settlement were disclosed.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly welcomed the settlement and made the strike-out order sought.

Oliver Quinn (Senior), Oliver Quinn (Junior), Niall Quinn and Ballymascanlon Holdings Ltd had initiated the proceedings against Google last May.

It was alleged that since about March 14, 2011, Google had permitted the term "receivership" to automatically appear in its autocomplete suggestions after the name of the hotel was typed in the search bar. Ballymascanlon's owners said this suggested it was in receivership or financial difficulty when this was not the case.

The case was initially brought against Google Ireland, but California-based Google Inc was later joined to the action as a co-defendant.

Solicitors for the defence had sought to have the case discontinued against Google Ireland on grounds it was not responsible for providing the Google web search service.

The defendants had applied earlier this month to have the proceedings fast-tracked in the Commercial Court but that motion was adjourned to yesterday on consent.

In a statement after the settlement, Google said: "We're pleased this case has been withdrawn. Autocomplete suggestions are produced by a number of objective factors including popularity of search terms, and automatically update themselves to reflect fresh and rising search queries. Google does not manually select these terms."

Irish Independent

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