by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 14th 2012 4:15am
Three years ago, we wrote about Bottin Cartographes, a French mapping company, suing Google because Google offers its Google Maps product (mostly) for free. Bottin argued that this was unfair competition, and suggested that it was a version of dumping -- whereby Google was giving away the product to intentionally wipe out the competition, at which point it would raise prices. Amazingly, an economically clueless French court has now agreed, and told Google to pay a fine and damages for its nefarious practice of giving away a product "for free." This is, to put it mildly, ridiculous. Is there any example of Google first wiping out all competition in a market with a free product... and then suddenly jacking up its prices? Yes, Google recently started charging for those who uses its mapping API a lot, but there's nothing, whatsoever, to suggest that the use of free here is somehow an anti-competitive move, rather than just a recognition of a wider strategy. In the meantime, if Google offering free maps in France is somehow illegal, you have to wonder what they think of a project like OpenStreetMap?
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