U.S. judge dismisses fraud claims against LinkedIn

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Aug 4 - A U.S. judge said Microsoft Corp's LinkedIn must face a lawsuit claiming it overcharged the number of people who watch video ads on the networking platform inflated the number of people who watched video ads, allowing it to overcharge hundreds of thousands of advertisers.

The U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen has dismissed fraud claims and an unfair competition claim on Tuesday, saying plaintiff advertisers did not show that LinkedIn made specific misrepresentations or that its conduct hurt the public at large.

But the San Jose, California-based judge let ads pursue claims based on the theory that bot traffic, fraudulent clicks and errant clicks inflated the metrics they relied on when buying LinkedIn ads.

Led by TopDevz Inc and Noirefy Inc, the advertisers said they had been counting video views of users' LinkedIn apps even when the videos were playing only off-screen because users had scrolled past them.

LinkedIn said in an email on Wednesday that it looked forward to showing that the claims lacked merit and said it was committed to transparency and integrity of our advertisements products.

Warren Postman, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in an email that he was pleased with the decision and looked forward to proving that LinkedIn broke the law.

Van Keulen said the plaintiffs could try again to pursue dismissed claims.

The advertisers sued after LinkedIn https: business.linkedin.com - marketing solutions blog linkedin-news 2020 how-we re-working to-improve reported on Nov. 12 that its engineers had found and then fixed software bugs three months earlier that could have led to more than 418,000 overcharges.

LinkedIn says more than 90% of the overcharges were less than $25, and that it provided credits to virtually all affected advertisers.

In their lawsuit, the advertisers said the overcharges left them with less money to spend elsewhere, including on advertisements. They are seeking unspecified damages and restitution.

The case is in re LinkedIn Advertising Metrics Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern California, Case No. 03443019,