Google Loses Third French Trademark Suit

Jeff Berg
PARIS — In another blow against Google’s AdWords program, a Paris court ruled on Friday that the search engine giant must pay 200,000 euros to Louis Vuitton for breach of trademark.

The central Paris high court made the ruling after the luxury goods maker had protested that Google displayed advertisements for Vuitton competitors when users searched for the company’s name.

A spokesperson for Google said that the company was currently considering whether it would appeal the court’s ruling of false publicity and counterfeiting.

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, Vuitton’s parent company, said that Google’s use of sponsored links had sent people searching for genuine Vuitton products to counterfeiters’ websites.

“Sending Internet users to these other sites made it seem as if their products were Louis Vuitton, when in fact they were fakes,” LVMH spokesperson Olivier Labesse told the Associated Press.

The ruling may have broad implications for Google, as it applies all sites owned by the company and not just its French portal page.

This is the second unfavorable judgment that Google has received in France within the last two months. In December, Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts won a preliminary ruling against Google for allowing Le Meridien competitors to bid on keywords featuring the hotel chain’s name.

Google was also fined by a French court for violating the trademark of online tour group Bourse des Vols in 2003.

Similar cases in the United States have had opposite outcomes, though, with a federal judge ruling that Google’s advertising practices do not violate federal trademark laws.