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Google loses to Vuitton in trademark case

....search giant did not check on advertisers peddling phony Louis Vuitton

   
4:12 am on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator skibum is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton said Wednesday a Paris court had upheld a trademark ruling against Internet search leader Google Inc. and increased the damages it should receive in the case.

The Paris Court of Appeals confirmed a February 2005 ruling by a Paris district court against Google for trademark counterfeiting and unfair competition and advertising, Louis Vuitton said in a statement.
...
Google's search results allowed merchants who sold counterfeit Vuitton goods to appear along with legitimate vendors, according to Vuitton.

Vuitton in trademark case - story [money.cnn.com]

So pretty soon the search engines are going to need detectives to go out to each merchant in the search results and make sure they are selling the real deal. TM infringement, ok, maybe but putting the responsibility on Google to determine is someone is selling knockoff sounds stupid.

[edited by: engine at 3:10 pm (utc) on June 29, 2006]
[edit reason] added snippet [/edit]

6:44 am on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)



"a Paris court"

and soon Saudi Arabia will issue an arrest warrant for Google execs for indexing material and pictures deemed "indicent" by their standards.
Part of me wishes that Google pulls out of France and a few other countries, but I know it's not a smart business decision.

3:20 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Google is scrapping the content of websites and monetizing it. If that practice harms other companies, then Google needs to be diligent in not republishing the web content of those offenders. Why different rules for Google?
3:26 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Im sorry to say but Google is in the wrong here, a trademark is a trademark, who are Google to rubbish the brand name and do what they think is right.
3:30 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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To any company in France that's up to the challenge: I wonder if you might bring litigation against Google for their (what many feel is) illegal use of "cache". It would probably win there, and I for one would love to see that.

I have a list of liabilities against it is anyone chooses to move forward with such a case!

3:33 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



If I sell exclusive widgets and I find that Google is listing companies who are selling counterfeit copies of my exclusive widgets then I am going to be upset about this whether I live in Paris, France or Paris, Texas.

Google has to operate within the law of the land.

3:41 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I have to agree with the court decision as well. Just because Google is an Internet search engine doesn't mean it can sell advertising to counterfeiters. Existing on the Internet doesn't make you immune to the same laws that apply to everyone else.

When Google takes money from these people it has a responsibility to insure that they are not breaking the law. The fact that Google likes to use algorithms for everything isn't a legal defense. If they need to hire editors to inspect every AdWords campaign on their system to insure no illegal activity takes place, then so be it. Tough bananas.

3:51 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Walkman, what's wrong with a Paris court? Why the quotations? Please enlighten me on why this case seems unreasonable within French law or, for that matter, why the french laws upheld or unreasonable.
4:00 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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walkman, heard of the Natwest trio [news.bbc.co.uk]? Being extradited to the US because the US courts want to question them?

If eventually extradited they would be placed in a US jail for up to 18 months before trial,
have to conduct their defences - using separate counsel - from custody.
... BBC [news.bbc.co.uk]

Is that OK then?

4:05 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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So if a well known retailler advertises Fendi bags in a local newspaper and they turn out to be counterfeits, would the newspaper be liable?
4:09 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



If that's the law in Paris, sure, why not?
4:20 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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If I sell exclusive widgets and I find that Google is listing companies who are selling counterfeit copies of my exclusive widgets then I am going to be upset about this whether I live in Paris, France or Paris, Texas.(...)

Yes!

But I would thank Google for bringing me those SERPs, so I can identify and go after the thefts. Putting the responsability on the SE doesn't make sense to me.

So let's bring Google to its knees... now what? Sites selling counterfeit copies will also be listed on Y!, MSN, Ask, <put your list of favourite 2nd-level SE here>. So let's sue all of them! Oh... I also see outlaws links in small directories, referred in forum posts, blogs, etc. Lets sue all of them also!

It seems that if you have deep pockets, sometimes it makes more sense from a marketing perspective to sue someone big that to make a marketing campaign.

[edit]Oh, now I see that the sites were in fact being displayed in AdWords, not on SERPS, so please do not consider the message above. :-)[/edit]

[edited by: afmbr at 4:24 pm (utc) on June 29, 2006]

4:20 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I presume there's some standard for due diligence that the court established but wasn't reported. If not, how on earth could Google (or a fashion magazine, or a TV station) prevent itself from being embroiled in every case of bogus luxury products?

In some cases, I suppose, Google could verify that the merchant was an authorized reseller. Not being authorized, though, doesn't mean the goods are bogus - they could be overstocks dumped by authorized dealers, gray market (but legit) items, etc. For widely distributed items, though, even that level of verification may not be possible.

This sounds like yet another court with an incomplete understanding of how the world works, rather like the German judge who shut down Wikipedia. Unless Google is complicit in the scam, I don't see how they can be liable. Perhaps there's more to the story.

4:21 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The are referring to websites that state the handbags are replicas not websites that sell copies claiming to be the real thing, big difference.

There is only 1 other company in the world that has access to genuine LV products for retail.

4:23 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I doubt that that would be the law in Paris. But the news article doesn't really provide enough information anyways. The Google ads from 2003 could have been reading "Counterfeit Vuitton 4 Sale" or "Vuitton Knock-offs Cheap". I'm thinking there's more to the lawsuit at any rate.
4:30 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)



I "picked" on a "Paris court" because the Paris court issued, what I see as, a stupid ruling. As far as the Natwest Trio: I don't know much about the case, but if it is unfair, it is so, regardless of who wants them extradited.

I don't go by "US did it, it must go good," but I wish we had some sort of standards wordlwide when it comes to the internet, and probably in 20 years or so. For now it can be frustating, as we can be hauled into different courts for things we did not know that they were illegal.

4:30 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



It's an easy fix for Google and here's my suggestion.

If you "own" a name and you don't want it in their results, just send in proof. Google filters out all these terms and return zero results.

Since it is painfully expensive (if not impossible) to verify goods as authentic, don't let the terms in Adwords either.

This is a huge opportunity for Google to give them exactly what they want! Zero sales via search engines. I just don't think they've got the guts to do it.

5:58 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)



Google is scrapping the content of websites and monetizing it.

Googlebot as a demolition tool? That's the wackiest conspiracy theory that I've heard yet. :-)

6:04 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Google cannot possibly police it, obviously.
They may have to respond to reports though, similar to DMCA and VERO etc.

It could be a nightmare for them, imagine the number of reports going in!

It would also turn into the fiasco that is VERO on ebay.
A bookseller I know had a listing shut down the other week - VERO by the author on a secondhand copy of a book.

Then VERO'd by the Hells Angels, of all people, another book auction pulled - all secondhand, no copyright issues etc - but still pulled

7:33 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



So if a well known retailler advertises Fendi bags in a local newspaper and they turn out to be counterfeits, would the newspaper be liable?

If the headline read LV Bags, 80% off, im pretty sure they would be.

The suit was about Adwords (not SERPS) that appeared back in 2004. Google CAN do something against those ads - and they actually DO it: no more bidding on trademarks.

So, what is all this fuss about?

Why do we have to fire at each other back here?

9:49 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Doesn't Louis Vuitton make enough money with their silly handbags.

Google should ban them totally from their search engine and put up Coach instead!

10:13 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Trademark violation, isn't it standard for PPCs to protect trademarked terms now? adCenter does it, Google does it. Overture? Probably... So why are we arguing?

The issue here is (Incase you forgot)... IF LV WASN'T ADVERTISING ON GOOGLE, THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE NOTICED SOMEONE SELLING KNOCK OFFS OF THEIR PRODUCT!

Therefore, it's Google's responsibility (or any other PPC for that matter) to make sure anyone advertising with them is the real mcCoy, or has permission. Case closed.

Doesn't Louis Vuitton make enough money with their silly handbags.
Google should ban them totally from their search engine and put up Coach instead!

Funny you should say that... I'm pretty sure the original G-unit makes more. :)

5:50 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator skibum is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



So then if Google should be guilty for letting this company place ads and not sending an inspector to see if the merchandise was genuine, should the website host also be liable since they also made it possible for this company to get exposure to sell knocokff handbags?
6:48 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Your missing the point. Like I said in message msg #:14 they are referring to websitess that clearly state that the handbags are replica, fake, copies. Up to 03 early 04 there were lots of Adword campaigns with such websites advertising their replica products.

If however the companies selling replica products were claiming the handbags were the real deal then Google could not be held responsible, how could they? it would be a matter between LV and the seller.

7:05 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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i agree with what people said already. google is the one to blame here. not lv.
8:06 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



So then if Google should be guilty for letting this company place ads and not sending an inspector to see if the merchandise was genuine, should the website host also be liable since they also made it possible for this company to get exposure to sell knocokff handbags?

You mean like the gun shops get prosecuted when someone gets shot with a gun they sold? ;)

8:09 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I think that Google should be an impartial venue. It's a tool. If someone uses it wrongly, then they should be the ones to pay for it, not Google. Where do you draw the line? Should they also go after the isp that hosted the site? Should they go after the companies that provided the bandwidth?

Some venues are too big to police. Why are phone companies not held responsible for the daily fraud that takes place over the phone lines?

9:43 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



The fake handbags only help the sales of the real thing in come cases.. Jim Cramer on CNBC commented that at a flea market you cannot find fake Oakleys anymore --- thats a bad thing! It means they are busy making fake Gucci and more stylish glasses instead.

Companies need to realize that LV has competitors with fake LV but also with the other hot name brands as well. LV should be going after the fake companies -- not google.

10:30 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Search for vuitton now at google.fr, and there's no adsense at all ... and on google.com and Google.co.uk, I'm only seeing one ad - for ebay (and that won't last, as they're going exclusively to Yahoo!).

It's stopped the fakes - but I wonder if the genuine ones will be happy not to be able to use that key word?

Interesting case for the future of adsense and TM abuse ...

10:56 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



This is a ridiculoous ruling. Google is not the police. The law also says that it is the responsibility of the trade-mark owner to protect it. I think Louis Vutoon is trying to get a free ride.
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