In a case of High Tech vs. High Fashion, BBC News reports that LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy), the French group behind the highly regarded fashion, shoes, handbags and jewelry company Louis Vuitton, has taken Internet giant Google to Court over its use of trademarks.
In the European Union’s highest court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), LVMH has argued that Google is selling search words such as its trademarked "vuitton" to the highest bidder and that because of this, web users searching for its products will see on the right hand side of the screen under the heading "sponsored links" the names and adverts for rivals or firms selling counterfeit or replica goods. It is well known that LV has become one of the most counterfeited contemporary luxury fashion brands.
This is not the first time that LVMH has taken legal action to protect its trademarks online. In June last year, a French court ordered auction site eBay to pay 38.6m euros to LVMH for allowing online auctions of fake copies of its handbags and perfumes, under brands including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Givenchy. In June 2006 the Paris Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling that Google infringed on Louis Vuitton's trademark by unfairly selling search-related keyword advertising to its competitors, including counterfeiters, via AdWords.
Google has also been in court over other trademark infringements. Back in 2005 Google lost an appeal against a court ruling over trademark infringement brought about by Luteciel and Viaticum, two French travel companies. A lawsuit was filed after Google users searching for the two French companies found themselves directed instead to rival sponsored links. Similarly, in 2005 a French court ordered Google to refrain from using the trademarks of European resort chain Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts to trigger keyword ads.