Google Did Not 'Abuse' Dominance in Maps, U.K. Court Rules

Updated on
  • Streetmap sued Google for unfairly promoting its own service
  • Case comes amid EU threats of antitrust fines for Google

Google won a lawsuit against online mapping company Streetmap EU Ltd. after a London court found the Internet-search engine hadn’t abused its power to crush the tiny British rival.

Google’s introduction of an image displaying its own maps at the top of search results in 2007 was not "reasonably likely" to affect competition in the markets for online maps, judge Peter Roth said in a judgment published Friday. The change gave Google an unfair advantage over other mapping providers and resulted in a "dramatic loss of traffic," Streetmap said in court documents.

Though "Google held a dominant position, it did not commit an abuse," Roth said in the judgment.

The case is one of the first to find its way to London courts in the midst of Google’s five-year antitrust battle with the European Commission. The Brussels-based regulator, which encourages private lawsuits in antitrust cases, has threatened large fines as a deterrent after accusing the U.S. search-engine giant of squeezing out competition in the comparison-shopping market.

Google is also fighting the EU’s antitrust complaint -- saying the commission made “peculiar and problematic” demands to change the way it displays search results.

"Because of what Google did, Streetmap has not been able to properly invest in the website since 2007," said Kate Sutton, a director at Streetmap. "This decision is unfair for small businesses.”

Streetmap will seek permission to appeal, she said.

(Updates with Streetmap statement in the sixth paragraph.)
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