Streetmap loses in high court to Google

UK-based company Streetmap has lost its high court battle with web giant Google.

Streetmaps - founded in 1997 - had taken Google to court over a claim the Streetmap’s business had collapsed back in 2007 because Google had used its dominant position to unfairly influence visitors using its web site to use Google’s own street map service.

Streetmap claimed this was unfair as Google had placed its own map application as a clickable link at the top of the page, while at the same time relegating Streetmaps entry to half way down the page.

Streetmap said it had a "dramatic loss of traffic" following the launch of Google's "big map" service at the top of its search results page in 2007. But in the ruling the judge said that, on the assumption Google held a "dominant position", it did not commit an abuse.

The judge said the launch of Maps OneBox by Google was "not reasonably likely appreciably to affect competition" in the online map market, ruling that it was not important enough to be noticed. He added that, in any event, Google's conduct was "objectively justified".

Speaking after the hearing, Streetmap director Kate Sutton said the decision was "unfair for small businesses". 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," she said.

"By raising the standard of proof from probability to 'appreciable effect' a complainant needs to have information which will usually only be known to the dominant company."