French court lays le smackdown on Google Maps
Fined for unfair competition in online cartography
A French court has found Google Maps guilty of unfair competition and ordered the Chocolate Factory to pay a fine and damages to a French mapping firm.
Bottin Cartographes had complained to the court that Google France and its parent Google were creating a dominant position for themselves in the market by providing their web-mapping services to businesses for free.
The commercial court in Paris agreed with Bottin and ordered the search giant to pay €500,000 (£415,600) in damages and interest and a €15,000 (£12,470) fine.
Bottin provides its maps for a fee and said that Google was undercutting it with its crazy free map strategy, which it would then change once it had gained control of the market.
"This is the end of a two-year battle, a decision without precedent," the lawyer for Bottin Cartographes, Jean-David Scemama told AFP.
"We proved the illegality of [Google's] strategy to remove its competitors... the court recognised the unfair and abusive character of the methods used and allocated Bottin Cartographes all it claimed.
"This is the first time Google has been convicted for its Google Maps application," he said.
However, Google France said it is planning to appeal the 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," a spokesman said.
It's not the first time that Mountain View has run afoul of les autorités.
French search engine 1plusV is also taking the Chocolate Factory to court over market dominance, saying that its command of the search world had blocked the development of rival services in the country.
And El Goog swallowed a €100,000 fine from the French privacy regulator for improperly gathering and storing data for Street View in March last year. ®
Google Maps API
Well Google Maps did exactly that with their API - started completely free and then began charging business customers quite a bit (Maps API for Business starts at $10,000 a year) after killing most of the competition, so the French authorities have a point there...
No, if you do business in France, you can't leverage your massive cash pile from one area to subsidize a loss-making service in another area, and in doing so stifle competition.
As another Regtard pointed out, they offered a free mapping service for which they now charge, which kind of blows the "it's not free, it's ad-supported" idea out of the water.
"Did Microsoft get fined for providing IE free?"
Actually, they did in the US antitrust case.