The French Tribunal de Commerce has ordered Google to pay €500,000 (around $650,000) in damages to Bottin Cartographes, a company specializing in creating location maps for businesses. The Parisian court upheld an unfair competition complaint lodged by Bottin against Google France and parent Google Inc. for providing its Google Maps API to businesses free of charge. Google only charges businesses to use its API if they have high traffic, or charge users for access to their site.
Bottin Cartographes first filed a complaint in 2009, and argued that Google was damaging its business by running Maps at a loss until it controlled the market.
"Google is ruining the market, they offer something that costs them. They want to crowd out the competition to gain a monopoly position in targeted internet advertising."
In addition to the €500,000 payment, Google will also have to pay a €15,000 fine. A spokesman confirmed Google's intention to appeal the decision, and added "We remain convinced that a free, high-quality mapping tool is beneficial to both users and website owners. There's real competition in this sector for us, both in France and abroad." Details on the case are limited at present, and it's not clear how Google defended itself, or what its basis for appeal is, but we'll bring you more on this as and when it surfaces.