A commercial court in Paris has ordered Google France and parent company Google Inc. to pay €500,000 ($660,000) in damages to Bottin Cartographes after finding the company guilty of unfair competition.
The French mapping company had complained that Google Maps offered their service free of charge in order to undercut competitors and gain control of the market. In addition, the court levied a €15,000 fine against Google.
Bottin Cartographes offers the same service as Google Maps, for a fee.
"This is the end of a two-year battle, a decision without precedent," the lawyer for Bottin Cartographes, Jean-David Scemmama, told The Daily Star. "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. This is the first time Google has been convicted for its Google Maps application."
It’s not the first time Google has lost a court battle in France, however. In March 2011, a French court fined Google €100,000 for collecting payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks while collecting Street View images for Google Maps. That same month, Google France was fined $430,000 for four breaches of copyright in a separate case.
In September 2010, Google and CEO Eric Schmidt were found guilty of defamation because Google suggested search terms including "rapist" and "satanist" when a query was done for the unnamed plaintiff's name. Similarly, a French appeals court ruled against Google in January 2010 in a separate defamation case in which the autosuggestions for the Centre Nationale Prive de Formation a Distancelinked the center to the word “scam.”
Back in June 2010, Google AdWords was found to have abused their dominant position in the French market. In the settlement agreement, they agreed to overhaul their rules on blocking specific advertisers from buying sponsored links. At the time, Google was clear that despite reports they would apply the terms of the agreement to operations in all countries with AdWords, they would not.
"This agreement and the commitments we have made are very narrow. They deal only with ads for traffic devices in France. Nothing else. That said, we are always looking for ways to improve our AdWords services for the benefit of users and advertisers," a Google spokesperson said at the time.
Google was also fined in France just last month because the search engine suggested the search term for “crook” when users typed in the name of a French insurance company.