The commercial court in Paris has, in a ruling announced today, upheld a claim made by Louis Vuitton Malletier and Christian Dior Couture against eBay.
The court has ruled that, by allowing the sale of counterfeit goods on its website to the detriment of Louis Vuitton Malletier and Christian Dior Couture, eBay was guilty of gross misconduct and of detrimental breach as, through accountable negligence, eBay had not taken the necessary measures to prevent the sale of the counterfeit goods on its site.
The court has also ruled that, in allowing the sale of perfumes carrying the brands Christian Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy and Kenzo, products which can only be sold through the network of distributors, agreed by the companies which own these brands, eBay was guilty of practicing unlawful sales.
To compensate for all damages, the court has ordered eBay to pay 16.4 million euros to Louis Vuitton Malletier, 19.28 million euros to Christian Dior, and 3.192 million euros to the perfume brands. The verdict is one of provisional execution. Moreover, the court has also added that a report of the decision must be published in three French or international newspapers. Finally, eBay must report the verdict on both its French and English sites.
The Paris commerce court’s verdict will make case law. For the first time in France it clearly states the principle under which auction sites that operate on the web have to ensure that their activities do not permit unlawful dealings. The court has dismissed as without foundation the argument used by eBay to exonerate itself that its clients are solely responsible for their illegal undertakings when transacting. eBay is not a host but a broker.
This verdict represents an important step in the protection of brands and designs against parasitic practices. The court brings an important contribution to the protection of creative works which make up an important part of our national heritage and generate many jobs in France.