Google hit with $31 million lawsuit

Google may just have cut the ribbon on its new French HQ, but Eric Schmidt and the gang won’t be receiving a warm welcome any time soon.

That is because the firm has landed itself in hot water over the abuse of its dominant position again, with a lawsuit demanding $31 million for damages to a navigation software company.

French firm NAVX is suing the search behemoth through the Paris Commercial Court over what it perceives to be wrongdoing about banning adverts from the firm.

NAVX has already appealed to French antitrust authorities over its treatment by Google where it was found competition laws had been broken.   Google was ordered to reinstate the advertising of NAVX and clarify the conditions of its Adwords service in future.  According to NAVX, which provides content for GPS and smartphones, Google agreed to do this.

However the French company reckons that it has lost out on a load of cash due to Google’s meddling, and has demanded damages to the tune of €23 million ($31 million).

NAVX CEO Jean Cherbonnier has issued the following statement:

“Google’s dominant position on the advertising market linked to search engines cannot be disputed, especially after the investigation conducted by the French Antitrust Authority, which concluded on December 14th 2010 that Google holds a dominant position.

“We are now asking the Paris Commercial Court to rule that Google abused its dominant position and order it to pay damages.”

The court case could not come at a worse time for Google.  Eric Schmidt has just met with European Commission antitrust boss Joaquin Almunia in what could be a last ditch attempt to stop a formal investigation into the firm landing Google with a statement of objection over its practices.

Indeed, NAVX is not the only firm out for Google’s blood after the search giant allegedly mistreated them.  Companies like Ciao, and Foundem, which TechEye spoke to recently, are enraged at Google’s practices and are pushing for EC intervention into what they consider bullying and bullish behavior.

So, it’s unlikely that another firm making detrimental claims against Google while talks are ongoing are likely to do the under-the-cosh search engine any favours.