A Paris Tribunal on Thursday ordered the popular online auction giant eBay to pay €200,000 for using keywords that harmed the reputation of the world's largest luxury goods conglomerate Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), in the latest round in a long-running legal battle over the sale of counterfeit goods on the Internet.
Run by French tycoon Bernard Arnault, LVMH is a maker of high-end leather goods, perfumes and other fashion and luxury products with well known brands like Christian Dior perfume, Tag Heuer watches and Louis Vuitton luggage among others, had accused eBay of ''harming the trademark and domain name of Louis Vuitton'', by misleading internet users with keywords such as ''Vitton,'' ''Viton'' and ''Wuiton'' and redirecting them to Ebay's website.
The Paris Tribunal found eBay guilty of harming the reputation of LVMH's trademarks and fined it €200,00o and ordered it to pay another €30,000 in legal costs. The Tribunal also ruled that eBay will be fined €1,000 for each future violation.
"Louis Vuitton welcomes this decision, which confirms established case law that aims to protect the consumer from the illicit use of company trademarks," said Nathalie Moull-Berteaux, global intellectual property director of Louis Vuitton, in a statement.
Yohan Ruso, director general of eBay in France, said in a statement, "This case is about the use of Adwords to direct buyers' listings for authentic goods from eBay sellers. This issue is being used by certain Rights Owners as an excuse to retain total control of what people can buy, where they can buy it from, and how much they have to pay. This is why 750,000 Europeans signed a petition to the European Parliament last year, protesting barriers to internet trade."
He went on to say, "Though disappointed by the decision given today by the Paris Court in the case opposing eBay to Louis Vuitton Malletier, we are satisfied that the court in damages, instead awarding €200,000. However, the decision flies in the face of the legal victory by eBay on appeal in Belgium (February 11, 2009) in a similar action opposing eBay to Ralph Lauren. We await with anticipation for the European Court of Justice to rule on March 23rd 2010 on Adwords related issues in the three Google cases referred to it."