Google AdWords: French Supreme Court position after ECJ’s findings

Following the decision of the ECJ issued on March 23, 2010, the French Supreme Court has ruled on July 13, 2010, in four cases, that Google’s AdWords system did not infringe the trademarks of plaintiffs Louis Vuitton, CNRRH, GIFAM and Viaticum by selling them as keywords and displaying advertisements.

The Supreme Court confirmed the ECJ’s finding that a trademark owner is entitled to prohibit advertisers from advertising, on the basis of a keyword identical, or similar to, a registered trademark, goods or services identical to those for which that mark is registered.

The decisions will make it more difficult for trademarks owners to enforce their rights, as they will have to file suit against any advertiser. The decisions also confirm that Google will be held liable only if it was aware of the illegal character of the data stored and failed to take action. The decisions follow a general trend whereby the courts have found that service providers, such as eBay, were not liable for trademark infringement.

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Google didn’t wait long to take advantage of the situation and has announced that as off September 14 a new policy will be applied in France as to the display of the commercial links which will adopt what already exists in Google USA, UK and Ireland…

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