Last November, UK-based Streetmap sued Google in court under an “abuse of competition” theory. Even after the work Streetmap went into trying to win against Google, the High Court of Justice in the UK as ruled against the company.
It was argued by Streetmap that their traffic and revenue was effectively destroyed by Google in 2008 due to the fact that Google Google Maps results were placed at the top of the search results. But, it looks like the court has disagreed with that argument.
In a news article written by The Guardian, the court said that the Maps OneBox was “not reasonably likely appreciably to affect competition in the market for online maps.” It doesn’t help Streetmap’s case when they offers a generally poor user experience. This poor experience, in the end, isn’t competitive with Google Maps.
It sounds like Streetmap will be appealing the unfavorable decision. Here is a quote found in the Guardian by Streetmap spokesperson, Kate Sutton on the ruling:
First, this decision is unfair for small businesses. The hands of small businesses are now tied behind our backs. The decision makes it effectively impossible for a small business to bring a competition law complaint until it is too late, because the information required will simply not be known to them.
Second, Google has got away with non-compliance with its legal obligations. It admitted in the trial that it did not do a UK test when it introduced Google Maps. It instead only looked at its effects on the US market. Google put forward no evidence that it had turned its corporate mind to compliance with UK law at the time. We think that it is wrong for any company with the duty of a dominant company to take such an approach to compliance with the law.
Although the European Commission is currently focused on the shopping vertical of the Google investigation, local/maps is one of the subsequent intended cases. Will this ruling hae an impact on the European Commission’s case against Google? We’ll have to see.