Google Maps Loses Unfair Competition Lawsuit in France

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A French court has determined that Google has abused its position with its Google Maps application by engaging in unfair competition practices.  The lawsuit was brought in 2010 by French company, Bottin Cartographes, which lodged a complaint against Google France claiming that by providing free mapping services to some companies, it was undercutting competition.  Bottin Cartographes offers the some of the same services as Google Maps but charges a fee.  The french cartography company asserted that Google’s offering of free mapping services was a strategy meant to wipe out competition.

The court fined Google 15,000 euros and ordered the company to pay 500,000 euros in damages and interest to Bottin Cartographes.  Google France plans to appeal the verdict stating, “We will appeal this decision. We remain convinced that a free high-quality mapping tool is beneficial for both Internet users and websites. There remains competition in this sector for us, both in France and internationally,”

It will be interesting to see what this ruling means for other mapping services that also offer mapping services for free such as OpenStreetMap and Open MapQuest, the latter of which open up its services in September of 2010 to France, Italy, Spain, and Germany.

While Google Maps is a free service for most users, the company recent began to charge for excessive Google Maps API usage.

Previously, Google found itself in hot water when it was fined 100,000 euros for privacy violations by France’s data privacy regulator for data collected as part of its Street View program.  An article about the French lawsuit in Forbes also notes that Google is also under antitrust  investigation for its business practices by the “FTC, DOJ, Texas, California, New York, the European Union, and Korea.”



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