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Google Settles French Ad Dispute

11.09.10

Google settled a dispute about rejecting ads with the French Competition Authority including a 3 month notification period for the future when rejecting ads. Navx bought ads from Google to help drivers avoid speeding tickets by providing “online maps pinpointing the location of radar and camera systems the authorities use to crack down on speeding on French roads.” Because radar detectors are illegal in France Google rejected Navx’s ads, and Navx filed a lawsuit in court for 7 million euros ($9.7 million) alleging damages. As part of the settlement Google “pledged to overhaul its rules and procedures for blocking certain advertisers from buying “sponsored links.” This good news since Google is adopting these new ad policies worldwide.

Google Accounts for 90% French Searches

Even better news for Google was that even though Google accounts for 90% of all online searches in France the French Competition Authority made “no finding of dominance or monopoly abuse.” However this could change and Google should be mindful of abusing its success. If Google accounted for 90% of the searches in the US it’s doubtful that the US government (FTC or Justice Department) would find no dominance or monopoly abuse. After all, the Justice Department pursued antitrust claims against Microsoft in the 1990s because of Microsoft’s market power and tying Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system (my 4th Big Bang of the Internet). There have been rumblings about Google’s potential anti competitive behavior since President Obama took office.

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