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Restaurant blames Google Maps for its demise

A Fairfax County restaurant claims it had to close its doors in part because the Internet goliath known as Google failed to police its maps application.

The Serbian Crown restaurant in Great Falls was known for exotic fare – it even offered lion meat – but it fell on hard times and closed a year ago after 34 years in operation.

The owner contends competitors were allowed to sabotage the Serbian Crown by putting false information on Google Maps. The listing erroneously said the eatery was closed on weekends, normally the busiest days for the business.

Represented by Arlington lawyer Christopher R. Rau, the Serbian Crown took Google Inc. to court. Google removed the $1 million Fairfax County lawsuit to federal court.

Google is not amused. Using pointed language, the company demands that U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee dismiss the complaint:

Rather than accept that restaurants, even longstanding ones, sometimes fail, the owner of this particular restaurant looked around for someone to blame. Who did he settle on? Google.

As the Complaint tells it, The Serbian Crown restaurant was forced to close its doors not because of rising rents, difficulty sourcing ingredients, declining quality, poor service, changing tastes, poor business decisions, increased competition, or any of the other myriad reasons that can cause an established restaurant to struggle. Rather, the Complaint maintains that The Serbian Crown closed because the operating hours listed for it on Google’s Maps and Places services were—for some unspecified, limited period beginning around a year before the restaurant closed—inaccurate. When were the hours corrected, as The Serbian Crown admits they were? The Complaint does not say. How much revenue was lost as result of the allegedly incorrect hours? The Complaint gives no hint. In short, The Serbian Crown seeks to recover at least $1 million from Google based on nothing more than conjecture and loose innuendo, including bizarre, unsupported allegations that Google was intentionally acting on behalf of the restaurant’s competitors and that by accurately listing the restaurant as “permanently closed” now, Google continues to inflict harm on the shuttered restaurant. The Serbian Crown should not be permitted to vex Google or this Court with such meritless claims.

Google is represented by Creighton J. Macy of Washington. A hearing before Lee is set for July 18.

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