Google’s French subsidiary has lost its appeal in a trademark case brought by LVMH MoetHennessy Louis Vuitton, which complained that advertisers were using its name unfairly to sell goods online.
In its ruling Wednesday, the Paris Court of Appeals increased the damages it previously awarded to Louis Vuitton to 300,000 euros (US$377,000), from 200,000 euros, and boosted its legal expenses to 60,000 euros from 15,000, Louis Vuitton said.
The luxury goods maker had objected to Google accepting payments from third parties for displaying advertisements alongside search results for Louis Vuitton’s trademarks. Google lost an initial ruling in the case in February 2005.
The search company is barred from using any Louis Vuitton trademarks in connection to its advertising services on all of its websites accessible from France, Louis Vuitton said. It must also pay for the ruling to be published in four newspapers and on the website.
A spokeswoman for Google in France did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Google has said it no longer permits companies to buy advertising keywords if they are the trademarks of other companies.
The Louis Vuitton case is one of several that Google has faced related to AdWords. Early last year, its French subsidiary was ordered to pay 75,000 euros in fines and legal costs for selling advertisements alongside searches related to a French travel agent’s trademarks.
The company has also been sued on similar grounds in the United States, Germany, Israel, Italy and Austria, it said in a recent U.S. regulatory filing. Yahoo’s sponsored search results division, Overture, has also lost a suit in France for selling advertisements next to the search results for a third party’s brands.
-James Niccolai, IDG News Service (Paris Bureau)
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