Securities Fraud Case Premised on Click Fraud Allegations Dismissed–Brodsky v. Yahoo

By Eric Goldman

Brodsky v. Yahoo, Inc., 2009 WL 1766002 (N.D. Cal. June 18, 2009).

The legal battles over click fraud are pretty much played out, but some legacy cases are still working through the system. This lawsuit was a securities fraud action alleging that Yahoo inflated its stock price by, among other things, deliberately ignoring some click fraud activity to grab quick revenue. The lawsuit was dismissed in October of last year with leave to amend. Having tried again, the plaintiffs still didn’t satisfy the judge, so the judge booted the case permanently. However, given the plaintiffs’ investments in this case, it would not surprise me if the plaintiffs appeal.

The actual opinion isn’t all that remarkable. For the click fraud allegations, the plaintiffs rely principally on confidential witnesses who are former Yahoo employees. The cloak-and-dagger Deep Throat stuff is mildly interesting, but the court still wasn’t convinced that these insiders had enough personal knowledge about Yahoo’s revenue recognition practices (except for one witness, who didn’t allege malfeasance). As I wrote in October, “it will be interesting to see if the plaintiffs can produce any witnesses who can testify about the rate of Yahoo’s click fraud overcharging sufficient to satisfy legal standards.” This ruling seems to answer that with a big “negative.”