L'Oréal trademark is worth protecting from cybersquatter

France

The Versailles Court of Appeal has issued a decision in Christiane L v L'Oréal, a case of cybersquatting that involved the registration of several L'Oréal trademarks as domain names.

In 1997 L'Oréal registered its advertising slogan 'L'Oréal, parce que je le vaux bien' ('L'Oréal, because I'm worth it') as a trademark in France. It went on to register translations of the phrase as trademarks in Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. Christiane L registered 13 domain names in August 2000, all of which were '.com', '.net' and '.org' variations of the trademarked phrase in French, German and Spanish. L claimed that she intended to use the domain names for a series of websites dedicated to numismatics (the collection of coins and banknotes).

L'Oréal petitioned the French courts to have the three French language domain names transferred, claiming that they exploited its famous trademark (ie, the French slogan).

The court of first instance ruled that while L had not exploited L'Oréal's trademark as she had not used the domain names to advertise or sell products that were identical or similar to those for which the trademark was registered, she was guilty of trademark infringement.

On appeal, the Versailles Court of Appeal affirmed. It held that L's use of L'Oréal's trademark - even in relation to services not offered by L'Oréal - would dilute the cosmetic company's famous mark. Thus, the court ordered L to transfer the three domain names to L'Oréal and pay L'Oréal €1,500.

Cédric Manara, Cabinet Caprioli Avocats, Nice

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