Google Fined In France For Offering Free Maps

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.