Decision on jurisdiction in online infringement cases departs from precedent

France
In eBay Europe v Maceo (December 2 2009), the Paris Court of Appeal has held that it had jurisdiction over eBay Inc, eBay Europe and eBay France (collectively eBay) in a trademark infringement case. 
 
French company Maceo, which designs, manufactures and sells clothes, claimed that eBay was using its trademark APRIL 77 in advertisements without authorization. After obtaining evidence (pursuant to a bailiff's report) that internet users could purchase jeans bearing the APRIL 77 mark on eBay's auction platform, Maceo requested that eBay delete all references to the mark on the website attached to the domain name 'ebay.com' .

The Paris Court of Appeal held that the French courts have jurisdiction over cases involving foreign websites if it is possible to demonstrate that the counterfeit products at issue were sold to French consumers. It was not necessary "to find a sufficient, substantial or significant link between the incriminated facts and the French territory". The court rejected eBay's argument that the website was not targeted at French consumers and that the advertisements were in English, holding that most French consumers would understand a few basic English words.
 
Therefore, since eBay's website, which is run from the United States, was accessible from the French territory, the French courts were competent to assess the damage suffered by a French party.
 
The decision departs from a previous ruling of the Supreme Court in which it was held that the French courts have jurisdiction over cases involving foreign websites only where the website at issue targets French consumers. In the present case, the Paris Court of Appeal disregarded the fact that 'ebay.com' is run from the United States and targets English-speaking consumers.
 
Severine Charbonnel and Richard Milchior, Granrut Avocats, Paris

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