Google action group split over legal bid

Plans for a lawsuit by travel companies against Google are at a critical stage after exploratory talks last week failed to reach agreement as to the direction of the action.

The group met in London last Friday (23 May) following widespread anger in the industry over the search engine giant’s controversial decision to overhaul its trademark bidding policy.

A further meeting is scheduled for early-June when it is hoped a final decision will be made whether to launch a legal action as a group.

The companies – who were joined at the meeting by trade body ABTA and other major consumer brands also unhappy at Google’s recent change of policy – could be forced to take a different route if a decision cannot be reached, Travolution has learned.

One source close to the group told Travolution: “One the one hand there is unanimous agreement within the group as to why they are sitting down to discuss the issue – but there are very opposing views as to which approach to take.”

“It is clear that some companies have far more to lose than others. This could ultimately hinder whether a major group action comes together, or if individual cases will be launched instead.”

The prospect of individual cases being brought Google remains on the table and could still be the easiest option as there is concern that a joint action, with numerous legal advisors involved, could become unwieldy and more expensive.

“For some of the organisations this issue is a huge point of principle which they will be willing to fight for regardless of whether there are ten companies involved or not,” another insider said.

Travolution understands that one route open to the group, and forming part of the proposals under consideration, is to involve the Confederation of British Industry or some other business body, which would act as a lobbying group and help steer dialogue with Google away from the law courts.

The CBI could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

* Full coverage of the Google policy issue

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