PARIS — L’Oréal’s fight against eBay continues here.
On Tuesday, the French beauty giant announced it is appealing the Paris High Court’s May 13 ruling in favor of eBay. The court had found eBay is not accountable for the sale of counterfeit L’Oréal products on its French Web site. The court ruled eBay has implemented means to fight the sale of counterfeit products on its online platform, thereby fulfilling its obligation of fair dealing.
L’Oréal had been asking for damages of 3.5 million euros, or $4.9 million at current exchange.
The court proposed eBay and L’Oréal find an amicable settlement via legal mediation.
As planned, the two parties met on May 25 to come to an agreement about methodology to combat the sale of counterfeit goods. However, eBay then formally notified the court’s decision, which resulted in a one-month deadline for appeals. In the absence of an appeal, the court’s May ruling would become definitive.
“Thus, as a precaution, L’Oréal is obliged to appeal the decision simply out of respect for procedural deadlines,” the company stated.
L’Oréal added the appeal lodged “is a measure that intends to protect the group’s rights. L’Oréal confirms its willingness for mediation, with the aim of defining efficient and ongoing measures to fight against the sale of counterfeit products on eBay. The group emphasizes that measures of this type have already been put in place across other platforms. These measures are crucial for the successful development of secure electronic commerce and reflect the expectations of consumers, online platforms and rights holders.”
In response to L’Oréal’s appeal, an eBay spokeswoman said, “As previously stated, eBay believes that mediation, dialogue and collaboration are essential in resolving these issues.”
Meanwhile, the two companies’ judicial mediation continues.
As reported, L’Oréal has launched numerous cases with the stated aim of clamping down on counterfeits. The European Court of Justice last week ruled in favor of L’Oréal in a case brought against Bellure, Malaika and Starion, which were accused of manufacturing, importing and distributing imitations of famous fragrances by L’Oréal-owned brands, such as Trésor.
L’Oréal initiated in 2007 a series of proceedings against eBay in several countries. On May 22, the U.K. High Court ruled eBay is not jointly liable for trademark infringements committed by sellers using its site. A court in Belgium also found in favor of eBay in a similar case in 2008. L’Oréal has since appealed the Belgian court’s decision and the case will be heard before the Court of Appeals in Brussels in 2010.
EBay, for its part, has been courtside not only with L’Oréal but also with luxury groups, including Tiffany & Co., LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Hermès International.
In other L’Oréal legal news, its Garnier brand and recruitment firm Adecco were found guilty of discrimination Tuesday by the French Supreme Court. This followed an appeal filed by L’Oréal in July 2007 regarding a lawsuit started in 2000. At that time, SOS Racisme, an antiracism organization, claimed that when recruiting product demonstrators for Garnier’s Fructis brand in September 2000, Districom, a subsidiary of Adecco, sent a fax to its temporary employment agencies requesting candidates that were described as “BBR.” The acronym purportedly stands for “bleu blanc rouge,” allegedly meaning Caucasian.
On Tuesday, the French Supreme Court maintained that a 30,000 euro, or $41,944, fine must be paid by L’Oréal and by Adecco. However, a court will review at a later date 30,000 euros worth of interest and damages possibly owed by each company.
“L’Oréal acknowledges the decision rendered [June 23] by the French Supreme Court and expresses its disappointment in the outcome of this case,” the company stated. “L’Oréal continues to reject the accusations of discrimination made against its affiliate Garnier by SOS Racisme. The group emphasizes that the respect of individuals is one of its fundamental values. L’Oréal is convinced that difference and diversity are a source of richness and creativity for all and does not tolerate any form of racism or discrimination of any kind.”
Further, L’Oréal highlighted it had received on May 14 a Diversity Seal of Excellence from Eric Besson, the minister for immigration, integration, national identity and unified development in France.