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Summary:

The French are kicking Google (NSDQ: GOOG) again. This time, in a strange ruling, Paris’ commercial court has found the company is anti-comp…

Sergey Brin And Larry Page

The French are kicking Google (NSDQ: GOOG) again. This time, in a strange ruling, Paris’ commercial court has found the company is anti-competitive because it offers Google Maps for free to businesses.

The case was brought by French online mapping firm Bottin Cartographes, which charges for its maps.

Google is ordered to pay €500,000 ($658,000/£416,100) in damages and interest plus a €15,000 ($19,740/£12,483) fine, AFP reports.

It’s enough to make an American entrepreneur scratch his head in frustration. Google, like many companies, supplies its products to consumers for free. This case concerned syndication of those maps to other businesses.

So dominant is Google now that it seemingly can’t help but get tripped up by anti-trust legislation, which naturally exists to prevent companies abusing dominant positions.

“We will appeal this decision,” Google France tells AFP. “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.”

Google is currently being investigated by the European Commission’s anti-trust department for allegedly abusing its dominant search position by promoting demoting rivals’ web services and by imposing obligations on ad sales.

A group of data protection officers has also this week asked France’s data privacy authority to probe Google’s newly harmonised privacy policy, due to take effect in March.

  1. I think there’s some confusion around this. They weren’t talking about consumers using Google Maps. They were talking about Google’s original strategy of offering Google Maps for Businesses for free, and then later adding a price once they had taken significant market share. A move that is considered illegal.

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  2. In a free market companies should be allowed to price their services as they wish.  Customers can take or leave.  Competitors can compete or be uncompetitive.  

    France has been way behind the curve in capitalising on the internet – 10 years plus behind the USA.  Now they go to court to try and use the force of law when they should just be thinking commercially; ‘how can we compete?’   The answer is they should have got in on the act 10 years ago at least.  Tough!

    I sort-of resent E-Bay who started with a very low listings price and now, having totally cornered the market, charge sellers a great deal more.  But I still sell my collectable bits and bobs with them and am amazed at the reach when I ship my old Hi-Fi to Korea, an old mobile phone at Australia and so on – making very good prices of cause too.  They deserve their success.   If a lower priced or better service comes into the market I will migrate.

    I was told about Google search years ago, started using it and have never really stopped.  Why would that be?  Top quality tool.

    My son’s new maths tutor told me she made a web-site and started business 3 weeks ago, she took out a contract with Google ad-words and is now fully booked – for a year. 

    Offer a better product or price and the customers will come to you.  But these companies want to use the force of the state’s legal system to charge people more money for a worse service and to compensate them for their lack of commercial foresight.

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