Streetmap.EU Ltd v Google Inc. & Ors  EWHC 253 (Ch) (12 February 2016)
The claimant (Streetmap.eu Limited) contended that the defendants (“Google” for simplicity) had abused a dominant position in general search engines by the prominent and preferential display given to their own related online map product, thereby restricting competition from competing suppliers of online maps in Great Britain according to Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”).
The Google search engine seeks to search the whole of the World Wide Web for results relevant to a user’s query.The visual display of the results is referred to as the “search engine results page” where Google at first displayed only a ranked list of blue links to third party web pages, with a short snippet of text from the relevant page. But Google then decided that it would be helpful to users to present also some specific types of information directly as a response to the query in a specialised format, which it called a “OneBox”. When Google launched the new-style Maps OneBox this included for the first time a clickable thumbnail map, initially with the address as a further hyperlink displayed to its right. The thumbnail was an extract from Google Maps, and clicking on it took the user directly to the relevant Google Maps page. The other hyperlinks brought up in response to the search query would be displayed below, including where appropriate, a blue link to Streetmap that would take the user to the map found on its website. That had the effect, increased when the size of the thumbnail map was itself increased, of pushing those blue links lower down the page. Nevertheless, the conclusion of the court was that the new-style Maps OneBox was not reasonably likely appreciably to affect competition in the market for online maps.
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