Luxury group goes after eBay on counterfeiting claims


Louis Vuitton Malletier and Christian Dior Couture, which are both part of luxury group LVMH, have filed a trademark infringement suit in a Paris court against online auctioneer eBay. Vuitton is claiming €20m in damages and interest related to sales of allegedly counterfeit goods on eBay between 2001 and 2005, while Dior is claiming €17m.

The lawsuit states that of the 300,000 DIOR branded items and 150,000 VUITTON bags offered on eBay during the first six months of this year, 90% were fakes.

LVMH claims that eBay's Verified Rights Owners programme, under which trademark owners are encouraged to notify eBay of any fakes that need to be removed from the site, is not sufficient and puts an unfair policing obligation on brand owners rather than eBay itself.

Meanwhile, Union des Fabricants, a French association for IP rights holders of which LVMH is a member, is also reported to want to put pressure on eBay and other online auctioneers such as, Yahoo! and Rakuten to take responsibility for the sale of counterfeit products on their websites.

LVMH has already successfully sued Google in France over allegations that it had, among other things, provided links to sites that sold counterfeit Vuitton products (see Google loses keying case).

A case similar to the LVMH v eBay Case, filed by jewellery maker Tiffany in 2004, is expected to go to trial in New York's federal court by the end of the year.

Véronique Musson, World Trademark Law Report, London

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