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AdSense Class Action

AdSense Class Action

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Published by jeff_roberts881
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Published by: jeff_roberts881 on May 21, 2014
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010450-11 691407 V1
 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT - 1
Jeff D. Friedman 715 Hearst Avenue, Suite 202 Berkeley, CA 94710 Telephone: (510) 725-3000 Facsimile: (510) 725-3001  jefff@hbsslaw.com Steve W. Berman (
 pro hac vice pending
) Robert F. Lopez (
 pro hac vice pending
) HAGENS BERMAN SOBOL SHAPIRO LLP 1918 Eighth Avenue, Suite 3300 Seattle, WA 98101 Telephone: (206) 623-7292 Facsimile: (206) 623-0594 steve@hbsslaw.com robl@hbsslaw.com
 Attorneys for Plaintiff and the Proposed Class
[
 Additional counsel on signature page
] UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA SAN JOSE DIVISION FREE RANGE CONTENT, INC., a California corporation, on behalf of itself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. GOOGLE INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant. No. CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT COMPLAINT FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT, BREACH OF THE IMPLIED COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING, UNJUST ENRICHMENT, VIOLATION OF CALIFORNIA UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO THE CALIFORNIA DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACT AND THE FEDERAL DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACT
DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL OF ANY ISSUES SO TRIABLE
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010450-11 691407 V1
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CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT - i
TABLE OF CONTENTS Page
 I.
 
INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................... 1
 
II.
 
JURISDICTION ...................................................................................................................... 2
 
III.
 
PARTIES ................................................................................................................................. 3
 
IV.
 
RELEVANT FACTS ............................................................................................................... 3
 
A.
 
Google’s AdSense Program ........................................................................................ 3
 
B.
 
Plaintiff’s and Proposed Class Members’ Bitter Experiences with Google’s AdSense Program ........................................................................................................ 5
 
C.
 
Reports from an Anonymous, Self-Described Former Employee of Google Regarding Google’s Alleged Practice of Wrongfully Withholding Payment from AdSense Publishers ..................................................................................................... 8
 
V.
 
CLASS ALLEGATIONS ...................................................................................................... 10
 
VI.
 
CLAIMS FOR RELIEF ......................................................................................................... 13
 
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION BREACH OF CONTRACT ................................................. 13
 
SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION BREACH OF THE IMPLIED COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING ................................................................................ 15
 
THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION UNJUST ENRICHMENT .................................................. 16
 
FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION VIOLATION OF THE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW (C
AL
.
 
B
US
.
 
&
 
P
ROF
.
 
C
ODE
 §§ 17200,
et seq.
) .............................................................. 16
 
FIFTH CAUSE OF ACTION REQUEST FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF (C
ALIFORNIA
 D
ECLARATORY
J
UDGMENT
A
CT
 C
AL
.
 
C
IV
.
 
P
ROC
.
 
C
ODE
 § 1060) .................... 18
 
SIXTH CAUSE OF ACTION REQUEST FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF (F
EDERAL
 D
ECLARATORY
J
UDGMENT
A
CT
 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a)) ......................................... 18
 
PRAYER FOR RELIEF .................................................................................................................... 19
 
JURY TRIAL DEMANDED ............................................................................................................ 19
 
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010450-11 691407 V1
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CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT - 1
For its complaint against the defendant, plaintiff, on its own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated, alleges as follows:
I.
 
INTRODUCTION
1. Google Inc. (“Google”) owns and operates the AdSense advertising program. By way of this program, Google induces website operators to host advertisements on their websites in exchange for the promise that Google will pay these website operators a share of the fees that advertisers pay it. Under the terms of Google’s contracts with the operators of these hosting websites, program participants earn money when visitors to their websites view or interact with the ads that Google has placed there. 2. The AdSense program is enormously popular. This popularity translates annually to billions of dollars payable to AdSense publishers – Google’s parlance for website operators that host its ads. But as the plaintiff and many other publishers have found, Google often shuts down AdSense accounts shortly before a periodic payment is due and then denies the publisher the entirety of the expected payment, notwithstanding all the ads the publisher already has served to visitors to its website during the payment period. 3. This practice has sparked numerous bitter complaints detailed at various places on the web. For example, one self-described AdSense publisher stated the following: “It’s common knowledge among SEOs that AdSense tends to be disabled a few days before the supposed payout. I haven't lost any big sum – only $2000 but I know one person that lost $40,000. It was all legitimate traffic coming straight from Google themselves, no click fraud no bought traffic etc. PS: I was using AdSense from 2008 to 2013 – over 5 years so it’s not like only new users got banned.”
1
 4. It is Google’s wrongful refusal to pay terminated AdSense publishers the monies they have earned and are owed that is the subject of this lawsuit. Google’s actions constitute breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, and violation of the California Unfair Competition Law.
1
 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7672910 (last accessed May 7, 2014).
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