The dispute between the luxury brand Louis Vuitton and Google over the use of trademarks has peaked with the matter between the two finally reaching the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton, has alleged the search engine giant for encouraging fake designer goods by selling keywords, like “Vuitton”, to the companies placing highest bid for them.
The company argues that this implies that web users searching for Louis Vuitton products using Google would see ads from the competitors or from the companies offering fake Louis Vuitton goods.
While presenting the case to the ECJ, Patrice de Cande, lawyer for Louis Vuitton argued by saying, “Google’s advertisement activities have given companies which sell fake products unprecedented visibility beyond their wildest dreams”.
Back in 2003, LVMH sued Google in the French courts, with the Paris central court ordered the California-based search company to pay £278,000 to LVMH for trademark violation.
Responding to the charges from Louis Vuitton, Alexandra Neri, Google’s lawyer, argued that since the search words weren’t visible to the user, they couldn’t be regarded as a protected trademark under the EU’s trademark law.
She defended by saying “Google makes money not by reason of the nature of the keyword, but by someone clicking on the keyword. The decision to click or not to click belongs to who? Clearly, to the Internet user.”
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LVMH arguments hinge on the fact that rogue traders are offering fake products using Google's Adwords services. There are some parallels between the LVMH case and the Youtube affair. In both cases, Google leaves the ultimate responsibility of the guilty action in the hands of the user, something that ressembles yet another case, that of Piratebay.