PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is taking eBay to court, alleging the online auction house failed to take an aggressive position against the widespread sale of counterfeit luxury goods on its site.
LVMH and sister company Christian Dior Couture recently filed claims for 20 million euros, or $25.3 million at current exchange, and 17 million euros, or $21.5 million, respectively, with the commercial court in Paris against eBay Inc. and eBay AG, its Swiss subsidiary, for counterfeit products sold between 2001 and 2005.
According to sources, in the second quarter of 2006 alone there were a total of 150,000 ads for Louis Vuitton handbags and 300,000 ads for Dior products on eBay, of which 90 percent were deemed fakes.
A spokeswoman for LVMH declined all comment on Wednesday.
The claim is not the French luxury behemoth's first lawsuit against an Internet site. Last June, Louis Vuitton triumphed in a case against Google, which was ordered to pay Vuitton 300,000 euros, or $379,800, for misleading advertising, unfair competition and trademark counterfeiting.
Although a spokeswoman for eBay France would not comment on the claim, she asserted the Web site plays an active role against counterfeit goods.
"EBay fights actively and aggressively against counterfeiting. The sale of such products is totally illegal on eBay. Our services immediately eliminate all counterfeit products from the site," she said, noting the company recently enforced a "VeRO program" or verified rights owners program, which allows brands to notify eBay of any counterfeit products advertised.
The claim against eBay is not the first from the luxury sector. Tiffany & Co. also filed a lawsuit against the e-tailer for selling counterfeit goods bearing Tiffany and other brand labels in 2004. Last March, there was a raid in the U.K. where many of the products confiscated were traced to sales on eBay and other online auction sites.
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