By  on June 19, 2009

PARIS — The European Court of Justice ruled Thursday in favor of L’Oréal in a case brought against three firms that produce knock-off versions of the beauty group’s best-selling scents.

The companies, Bellure, Malaika and Starion were accused of manufacturing, importing and distributing imitations of famous fragrances by L’Oréal-owned brands including Trésor, Anaïs-Anaïs and Noa in the U.K. To do so, they used packaging and bottles that were similar to those of the genuine products, according to the ECJ, and they also drew up comparison lists for retailers that detailed which trademarked fragrances the counterfeits were designed to imitate.

The ECJ found it is unfair for a company to ride on the coat tails of another’s prestige and substantial financial investment without paying them any compensation.

“L’Oréal is pleased with the decision made today by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, confirming that well-known brands have wide protection against competitors taking unfair advantage, and the use of branding to indicate the corresponding smell-alike fragrance to a well-known perfume may constitute illicit comparative advertising,” a L’Oréal spokesperson said, adding, “This decision is important as it provides consumers with better protection from infringements, and will prevent certain enterprises from unduly profiting from the investments, knowledge and innovations of other creative companies.”

In the future, companies in a similar situation to L’Oréal’s will not automatically find a court rules in their favor. The ECJ stated that each individual case would be subject to “a global assessment,” taking into account such things as the strength of the trademarked brand and its reputation, as well as the degree of similarity between the original and counterfeit.

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