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Google charged for anti-competitive practices


French mapping company Bottin Cartographes sues Google for "abusing" its dominant market position

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Google has been ordered to pay a fine and damages to a French mapping company of almost £450,000 after a court ruled that the search giant was guilty of unfair competition and "undercutting competitors" by making its Google Maps service free.

Bottin Cartographes - a French mapping company that provides essentially the same service as Google Maps for a fee - brought a suit claiming that Google was "abusing" its dominant position by making its service free, French news services have claimed.

Google's strategy is to undercut competitors by "temporarily swallowing the full cost until it gains control of the market," the court found.

A Paris-based commercial court agreed with Bottin Cartographes and ordered Google to pay €500,000 (£415,000) damages to Bottin Cartographes, as well as a fine of €15,000 euro (£12,500).

"We proved the illegality of Google's strategy to remove its competitors," said Jean-David Scemmama, Bottin Cartographes' lawyer. "The court recognised the unfair and abusive character of the methods used and allocated Bottin Cartographes all it claimed."

Google plans to appeal the court's decision.

"We remain convinced that a free high-quality mapping tool is beneficial for both Internet users and websites," a Google France spokesman said. "There remains competition in this sector for us, both in France and internationally."

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