On 22 February 2011, the French website publisher 1plusV filed a
complementary complaint before the European Commission, alleging
abuse by Google of a dominant position. This follows an
initial complaint lodged on February 2010, which led the European
Commission to open in-depth investigations into Google's
behaviour in November 2010. In addition to this, Google may
now face a further action from 1plusV before the French
The French Commercial Code allows undertakings claiming to have
suffered harm from anticompetitive practices to file antitrust
damages actions before French Commercial courts. Whilst few
of these French antitrust damages actions have been launched to
date, as they require a significant amount of time and adequate
funding in order to be implemented, several of them are currently
pending against Google.
The most well-known action is the one launched by the mapping
content provider Navx. Navx first launched an antitrust
action before the French Competition Authority, which declared that
Google had implemented its online advertising service,
AdWords, with a lack of objectivity and transparency which
resulted in discriminatory treatment (see Community Week Issues
While the French Competition Authority accepted Google's
commitments on 28 October 2010 and closed the procedure, Google
still faces a €7 million antitrust private damages claim
launched by Navx on 11 October 2010, this time before the Paris
Commercial court. Another mapping company, Bottin Carto, also
has a case pending against Google before the Paris Commercial court
claiming €500,000 damages.
Generally speaking, and even if 1plusV was to succeed in
claiming a greater level of damages than that sought by Navx, the
sums Google may have to pay in damages in respect of these French
proceedings remains low compared to Google's turnover and
ability to pay. Nevertheless, small but numerous victories
against Google may still be seen as significant by stakeholders and
indeed by Google itself.
To view Community Week, Issue 510; 25th February 2011
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