long arm of the law
Posted by Barry Silverstein on July 14, 2010 03:00 PM
Google just isn't having a good time with trademark issues in the European Union.
In March, we reported that a suit brought against Google by LVMH, owner of the Louis Vuitton brand, had been ruled in favor of Google. The case involved LVMH's claim that, by selling the Louis Vuitton brand name to anyone as a search term, Google was infringing on its trademark and promoting the online sale of counterfeit products.
The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg "ruled that Google isn't liable for trademark infringement when it sells linked ads to a brand's competitor."
Well, not so fast. Now the French Supreme Court has ruled that Google "can be held liable for the sale of trademarks as AdWords on the grounds of civil liability." The court has referred Google's dispute with Louis Vuitton to the Paris Court of Appeals. Zut alors!
Apparently the French would rather support LVMH than Google — and with good reason. LVMH is a French holding company, a global leader in luxury goods, and in the greater scheme of things, rather important to France's economic well-being. LVMH is also on something of a Web warpath, also spearheading a Europe-wide move for luxury brands to block e-tailers peddling counterfeit goods.
LVMH is delighted at the French court's ruling in its Google suit, stating that the decision "helps to clarify the rules applicable to e-commerce, in order to ensure greater legal certainty to the benefit of both businesses and consumers operating online."
Looks like this brouhaha is far from over.