A federal appeals panel grilled lawyers in a case against Google over a claim of conflict of interest in steering funds from an $8.5 million class action settlement to the alma maters of two of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, including Harvard and Stanford universities.

The case focuses on class action settlements that provide no money to class members but fund charitable organizations under the cy pres doctrine, a controversial practice normally used to distribute unclaimed funds. In the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, objector Ted Frank said the Google accord gave nothing to the class while funding six entities, including Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, the Stanford Center for Internet and Society and the Center for Information, Society and Policy at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law..

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