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French court lays le smackdown on Google Maps

Fined for unfair competition in online cartography

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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. ®

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