I remember a time when offering something for free would elicit gratitude and calls for the person to run for president. Google was probably thinking the same thing when it decided to offer a number of its services for free. But that’s not what the Company got for offering their highly useful Google Maps for free.
For the “crime” offering Google Maps to the public free of charge, Google is being asked to pay a fine.
Yup, you read it right. A court in France has ordered Google to pay a fine as well as damages to Bottin Cartographes, a French cartographic (read: mapping) company. The reason? Google is undercutting companies that offer the same services as Google Maps but with fees.
Bottin Cartographes filed an unfair competition suit against Google. The company claimed that Google is using its position as one of the largest companies in the world to gain a dominant position in the digital mapping market. Google is being asked to pay 500,000 euros to Bottin Cartographes as well as a 15,000 euros as a fine. Google has said that it will be appealing the ruling but declined to further comment on the issue.
The monetary elements of the ruling is nothing to Google. But the ruling may set a precedent that will affect the company’s ongoing legal struggles in France and the European Union. An antitrust lawsuit has been filed against Google in France regarding AdWords. Preliminary investigation has said that Google has abused it position. The company also faced the same lawsuit in Brussels regarding Google Maps and this has been included in the European Commission’s larger antitrust investigation against Google.