Web & communication software

NavX Sues Google Again, Increasing Its Claim for Damages Over Adwords Rules

French navigation data provider NavX filed another lawsuit against Google last Thursday, renewing its accusations that the company abused its dominant position in online advertising and tripling its claim for damages.

In June 2010, the French Competition Authority ordered Google to change its practices in settlement of a complaint from NavX about the same issue, closing the case in October 2010. Around that time, NavX filed a claim against Google in the Paris Commercial Court seeking €7 million in damages, returning there last week to raise its claim to €23 million (US$31 million).

Navx had complained to the authority after Google suspended its Adwords account without explanation in November 2009. According to the authority, Google later said it had suspended the account on the grounds that its code of practice for advertisers forbids the promotion of "illegal traffic devices that evade traffic laws." However, NavX didn't sell devices, it sold databases of radar speed-trap locations allowing GPS receivers to warn drivers as they approach speed traps.

"We don't think Google's behavior has significantly changed since the decision of the French competition authority," NavX CEO Jean Cherbonnier said Wednesday, by email.

NavX has asked the Court to rule that Google abused its dominant position by discriminating against NavX, by brutally ending the companies' commercial relationship without motive, and by refusing to reactivate NavX's account, Cherbonnier said.

Cherbonnier said NavX took so long to increase its demands because it was waiting for a financial valuation expert to estimate the damages it had suffered.

NavX also wants the court to make Google change its practices, beyond the changes ordered by the Competition Authority.

"We are also asking the court to cancel two clauses in their advertising terms and conditions. One allows Google to terminate the agreement with immediate effect. The other allows Google to modify its Policies at any time," Cherbonnier said.

Google said it had no comment on the new lawsuit.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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