Paris court finds eBay liable for harming Louis Vuitton brand name

Thursday, February 11, 2010

EBay found liable in Louis Vuitton suit

NEW YORK — EBay Inc. will pay about $316,500 to Louis Vuitton Malletier for legal costs and damages and stop using Internet search terms the luxury goods maker protested, following a ruling Thursday by the Paris District Court.

The online auction site was found liable for harming the reputation of Louis Vuitton trademarks, the company name and domain name — all held by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. EBay spokeswoman Alina Piacentino said the company will appeal the decision.

Ebay had been buying keywords such as “Viton,” ”Vitton” and “Wuiton” so that online shoppers using these misspellings into a search engine, along with anyone using the brand’s correct spelling, would be directed to links promoting eBay, a Louis Vuitton spokeswoman said.

The court, which called eBay’s actions “parasitic,” ordered the company to stop using the keywords. The court said the practice harmed Louis Vuitton’s brand.

The online auction house must pay Louis Vuitton 200,000 euros, or $275,200, in damages plus 30,000 euros, or $41,300, in legal costs. In a prepared statement, eBay said it was disappointed but noted Louis Vuitton was awarded less than the 1.2 million euros, or $1.7 million, it sought.

In the case of any future violations, eBay must pay Louis Vuitton a 1,000-euro, or about $1,400, according to an LVMH spokeswoman.

EBay also said the ruling “flies in the face” of a legal victory against Ralph Lauren in an appeal of a similar case in Belgium.

Shares of eBay rose 17 cents to $22.13 in afternoon trading.

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