Maltese browser game biz flings €1m sueball at Google over Adsense kerfuffle

Claims to have made nearly €800k from ad clicks

A Maltese "browser-based gaming" company that claimed to have made nearly €800,000 from ad clicks in one month is suing Google after the ad tech monolith kicked it out of the Adsense program.

The Mountain View, California-based business alleged in court filings seen by The Register that Maltese outfit Kiwix merely pulled games from a third party website inside an iframe while surrounding them with ads served by Google Adsense.

Google also claimed that Kiwix deliberately tried to evade manual reviews by Ireland-based Google staffers through geographical IP address checks.

Kiwix Ltd filed suit against Google in London's High Court after the American ad tech company, which also runs a search engine, abruptly halted Kiwix's Adsense services after just five weeks on the platform.

According to court filings, Kiwix signed up for Google Adsense for Content, which is Google's let-us-embed-ads-into-your-webpage product. After being accepted into it in May 2017, Kiwix duly added Adsense to three of its websites, named as zoxy[dot]club, zoxy[dot]space and zoxy[dot]fun.

This, so Kiwix argues, was a profitable exercise for all concerned, stating that "on 16 June 2017 Google reported via its AdSense Management API that Kiwix was entitled to the payment by Google of a balance of €793,789.65."

Google disagreed, disabling Kiwix's account within days and refusing to hand over any of the money. The Maltese firm thus claims that Google has breached their contract, as well as failing to state "that it has terminated the account". Kiwix wants the ad tech company to hand over the €794k, as well as €230k for a brief suspension of the account for five days in May (consisting of allegedly lost revenues) before the permanent ban came into force in June 2017. The total claim is for just over £900,000, or €1m.

Naturally, Google's defence to the High Court claim differs considerably from Kiwix's version of events.

Alleging that Kiwix "does not itself host games on its websites" and instead pulled them via iframes from htmlgames.com, Google alleges that Kiwix's practices were "invalid" under the Adsense terms and conditions. Critically, under its Ts&Cs, Google states that it alone determines what is and is not valid.

"Google's determination of non-compliance was principally based on the fact that Kiwix's websites featured what purported to be a loading bar for games," said Google in court filings, continuing: "In fact, Kiwix's loading bar was pre-programmed to take 10 seconds to fill, regardless of whatever time it might in fact take for the game to load… Google determined that Kiwix's loading bar was deceptive to users of the website and was not in compliance with the Adsense program policies."

Not only that but Google also alleges that Kiwix deliberately tried to evade manual reviews by Ireland-based Google staffers. An IP address check resulted in all users with non-Irish IPs who clicked on a Kiwix game being sent to an "intermediate webpage which displayed advertising and a description of the game". If you had an Irish IP address, however, you went straight to the game without the extra page of ads beforehand, according to Google.

"In view of Kiwix's non-compliance with the Adsense program policies, the amounts which had previously been reported against the account arose from invalid activity and should be refunded or credited to the advertisers," said Google in its court filings.

The ad tech monolith said it has not breached any contract, either by freezing Kiwix's Adsense account or by refunding advertisers instead of passing the revenues on.

The case, before the Chancery Division of the High Court, continues. ®

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