LVMH Takes Another Ebay Decision

LVMH wins case in France against online auction giant eBay — this time for its flagship Louis Vuitton brand.

PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has won another case against online auction giant eBay — this time for its flagship Louis Vuitton brand.

This story first appeared in the February 12, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Calling the decision a victory in protecting consumers against counterfeiters, Vuitton said Paris’ Tribunal de Grande Instance, or Superior Court, ordered eBay to pay it 200,000 euros, or $275,206 at current exchange rates, in damages, as well as 30,000 euros, or $41,281, for legal fees.

The court also ordered eBay to stop using Vuitton-related key word searches or face fines of 1,000 euros, or $1,376, per infraction.

“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.

EBay said it was disappointed by the Paris court’s decision, but satisfied LVMH had been awarded just 200,000 euros, instead of the 1.2 million euros, or $1.6 million, the luxury group had originally requested.

EBay noted that a Belgian appeals court had recently ruled in its favor in a similar case pitting the auction site against Ralph Lauren. The company added that it was waiting for a ruling from the European Court of Justice on a related topic: whether Web search engine Google should be able to continue selling trademark-protected terms as key words that link Internet searches to advertisements.

“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,” said Yohan Ruso, director general of eBay in France.

The ruling is the latest in a long line of court cases between LVMH and eBay. In November, the online auction site was fined 1.7 million euros, or $2.6 million, for failing to prevent the trade of LVMH’s fragrances and cosmetics on its French Web site.

And in September, eBay was ordered to pay 80,000 euros, or $117,820 at average exchange rates for the period, after LVMH complained key word searches on the site for Christian Dior, Kenzo, Givenchy and Guerlain perfumes provided links to sites selling these products. The auction site subsequently appealed that decision.

EBay is also appealing another court decision that in June awarded LVMH 38 million euros, or $55.7 million, in damages over the sale of fake LVMH merchandise on the site.