September 22, 2009, 12:00 AM

A French court fines eBay over online advertising, but withholds damages

A court in Paris has fined eBay 80,000 euros (US$118,000) for using brand names such as Dior and Givenchy in its advertising. However, the court rejected Dior`s request for a much larger 4 million euro judgment.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

A court in Paris has fined eBay Inc. 80,000 euros (US$118,000) for using brand names such as Dior and Givenchy in its advertising. However, the court rejected Dior`s request for a much larger 4 million euro judgment.

The lawsuit was brought by luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessey Louis Vuitton over alleged use of brand names such as Christian Dior, Kenzo, Givenchy and Guerlain.

“The tribunal has ruled that eBay, in using in its adverts the keywords of some of LVMH’s brands, has committed acts of counterfeiting through reproduction or imitation,” Pierre Godé, director of LVMH Group, said in a statement.

For its part, eBay said it was satisfied that the court turned down Dior`s request for 4 million euros in damages.

However, eBay also noted that this ruling ran counter to a successful eBay appearl of a similar ruling in Belgium early this year. In its statement, eBay noted that it awaited a ruling by the European Court of Justice on similar cases relating to whether Google can permit bidding on trademarked terms. An advisor to the European court issued an opinion this week saying that Google should be permitted to accept bids for paid search ads on trademarked terms by companies other than the trademark holder.

The court threatened eBay with additional fines of 1,000 euros for any additional infringement of the brands of LVMH.

LVMH won a much larger ruling against eBay in June 2008 when a French court fined eBay nearly 40 million euros for failing to prevent the sale of counterfeit Dior and Louis Vuitton merchandise on the online marketplace. EBay has argued that luxury goods manufacturers, seeking to protect the exclusive image of their products, try to discourage resale of their products on eBay. EBay notes that it operates a program that allows 14,000 trademark owners to report to eBay counterfeit items being offered for sale.

 

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