Bottin Cartographes sued Google, alleging they were offering Google Maps for free to push competitors out of the market. Once their competition is gone, Bottin claims, Google plans to begin charging for the service. Despite the fact their allegation seems to run counter to Google's standard business model of using free services to generate ad revenue, a French judge agreed.
Google has vowed to appeal the ruling, which even Bottin's lawyer called "a decision without precedent," according to a report from AFP. In addition to the damage award, Google was ordered to pay a 15,000 euro fine.
Google has been criticized around the world by companies in various sectors for allegedly abusing their dominance in search to give their own services an unfair advantage. However, this seems significantly different from the standard complaints because of the wild claim that Google plans to begin charging users once they eliminate the competition.
It's hard to overstate the importance of that point. Depending on who you ask, favored treatment for Google services could be characterized as competitive or anticompetitive. Undercutting competitors for the sole purpose of putting them out of business is a very different matter.
Written by: Rich Fiscus @ 2 Feb 2012 13:39