Google must pay $660,000 for offering Google Maps for free

The plaintiff, Bottin Cartographes, says Google's free business model is undercutting competitors that offer mapping services at a price.

Google Maps has come under fire in France.
Google Maps has come under fire in France. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

You may like that Google Maps is free, but a French court says it's actually anticompetitive.

A Paris court earlier this week ordered Google France and its parent company Google to pay plaintiff Bottin Cartographes 500,000 euros (about $660,000) for providing its free mapping services to businesses across the country. The court also required Google to pay a 15,000 euro fine for its practice.

"We proved the illegality of (Google's) strategy to remove its competitors," Jean-David Scemmama, attorney for Bottin Cartographes, a company that provides mapping services to businesses, told the AFP in an interview earlier this week. "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."

According to Scemmama, Bottin has been arguing its case against Google for two years, claiming the search giant was engaging in anticompetitive practices by using its free service to take control over the online-mapping industry.

In a statement to the AFP, Google said that it will appeal the court's decision, adding that Google Maps is still facing competition in that market.

Late last year, Google Maps also came under fire in the U.S., after British Telecom filed a lawsuit against the search giant in a Delaware District Court , claiming the mapping service violates patents it holds related to navigation information.

Google did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on the Maps lawsuit.

 

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