The French luxury giant said Thursday it has ended its legal dispute with Google and instead signed an agreement in which both parties committed to “further enhance their current extensive resources to tackle the advertising and sale of counterfeit goods online.”
In a joint statement, the parties said they would focus on “opportunities to innovate and enhance the digital experience of their customers.”
Google, owner of the most-used Internet search engine, and LVMH have been fighting in France since 2003 over Internet searches linked to trademark names. It is understood links to sellers of counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Dior bags were the most problematic.
Pierre Godé, vice president of LVMH, said the agreement with Google “paves the way for greater cooperation toward a safer and more engaging digital environment” in which “brands will be protected both online and offline.”
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo, Google’s president of Southern and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa operations, added that the two companies would “work together to tackle the advertising of counterfeit goods online” and engage its “engineering, product and sales teams.”
LVMH had sought recourse under French civil law, urging that Google should be held liable for allowing advertisers to buy keywords corresponding to registered trademarks such as Vuitton. The court referred the long-running case to the Paris Court of Appeal to rule on jurisdiction and to determine if the online search giant committed any wrongdoing to the detriment of the maker of luxury leather goods.
In 2006, the Paris Central Court ordered Google to pay LVMH 300,000 euros, or $443,859 at average exchange rates for the period, for trademark infringement.
LVMH also recently settled an eight-year battle over fake and gray-market luxury goods with auction site eBay.
In July, the two companies unveiled “a cooperative effort to protect intellectual property rights and combat counterfeits in online commerce,” putting an end to ongoing litigation.
In 2008, a French court ordered eBay to pay a compensation of 38.9 million euros, or $52.7 million at current exchange, to LVMH, the highest fine ever awarded against it in Europe for allowing the sale of counterfeit goods and for the unlawful sales of authentic fragrances between 2001 and 2006.
A series of minor court cases followed, until a French appeals court decided to reduce the original amount of 38.9 million euros to 5.7 million euros, or $7.7 million, in 2010. Then, in 2012, another court ruled that although the lower court had been right to decide eBay’s liability on its French and British Web sites, it did not have jurisdiction over eBay’s U.S. site.
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