French Court Fines Google for Offering Free Maps

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Google FranceBy Jason Knapfel

We’ve all heard of price gouging. What’s the term for the exact opposite? Google has been found guilty by a French court of abusing their dominant position by offering Google Maps for free. The verdict comes with a $660,000 fine.

The Paris court upheld the unfair competition complaint placed by Bottin Cartographes against Google France and its parent company Google Inc.

“We proved the illegality of (Google’s) strategy to remove its competitors… the court recognized the unfair and abusive character of the methods used and allocated Bottin Cartographes all it claimed,” said Jean-David Scemmama, attorney for the company. “This is the first time Google has been convicted for its Google Maps application.”

A spokesman for Google France says they will appeal the ruling.

“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,” said the spokesman.

Bottin Cartographes provides paid mapping services with some high-profile clients, including Louis Vuitton, Airbus and several automobile manufacturers.

While the French court’s ruling has Google paying $660,000 (500,000 Euros) in damages to Bottin Cartographes, there is also a 15,000 Euro fine and interest, bringing the total cost of the ruling to about $680,000.

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