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eBay loses another suit over Louis Vuitton brand

Paris court rules against eBay in lawsuit filed by luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton Malletier. LVM claimed the auction site used keywords that harmed its reputation.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

eBay has lost another lawsuit filed against it by luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton Malletier.

The Paris District Court ruled Thursday that eBay was liable for harming the reputation of LVM's trademarks, company name, and domain name. LVM had sued eBay claiming that the site was using keywords that hurt the Louis Vuitton brand.

The Paris court has ordered eBay to pay damages of 200,000 euros ($273,176) and to cover LVM's legal fees to the tune of 30,000 euros. eBay will also be fined 1,000 euros 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 Moullé-Berteaux, global intellectual property director of Louis Vuitton, in a statement.

In eBay's response to the decision, 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."

Ruso added, "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 recognized most of eBay's submission and rebuked Louis Vuitton Malletier request for 1.2 million euros in damages, instead awarding 200,000 euros. 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."

This suit was just the latest in a series of legal battles between eBay and LVM. In June 2008, the Commercial Court of Paris fined eBay for failing to stop the sale of counterfeit handbags and other products claiming to be made by LVM. The auction site promised to do more to crack down on fake goods. But in November 2009, the same court again fined eBay, ruling that the company had failed to live up to its promise.