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France court rules Google Maps practicing unfair competition

The French Commercial Tribunal [official website, in French] in Paris ruled Tuesday that Google Maps [corporate website] is anti-competitive because it is offered as a free service. The plaintiff, Bottin Cartographers [corporate website], alleged that Google provides its maps service for free, thereby undercutting competitors, in order to gain market control. The court ordered that Google must pay £415,000 to the plaintiff [Guardian report], as well as a €15,000 fine, totaling about $680,000. This is the first conviction against Google's maps service. The attorney for Bottin Cartographers said the decision "recognized the unfair and abusive character of the methods used and allocated Bottin Cartographes all it claimed." Google plans to appeal the ruling.

Many of Google's services have been called into question recently. Earlier this month, Google defended its new privacy policies to US lawmakers after 8 congressmen questioned the new policies [JURIST reports]. In August the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced that the agency had reached a $500 million settlement [JURIST report] with Google for unlawfully permitting Canadian pharmaceutical companies to advertise to and target US consumers. In July a federal judge extended settlement negotiations [JURIST report] over a 2005 copyright suit filed against Google over its Google Books [corporate website] book scanning project. Also in July another federal judge ruled that Google could appeal a decision permitting a wiretapping lawsuit [JURIST report] over Google's Street View [corporate website] service. Google was accused of violating user privacy by using WiFi networks to collect data for the service, a charge that came as a result of a multistate investigation [JURIST report] that began in June of 2010. There have been international rulings on the Street View service as well. A Swiss court ruled the service constituted a violation of privacy, while a German court ruled it did not [JURIST reports].

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