Big fashion brands up against eBay
French court will decide Monday whether to make eBay pay EUR 41 million in damages to big fashion brands for letting counterfeit goods be sold on its site.30 June 2008
PARIS - A Paris court was to decide Monday whether to make eBay pay EUR 51 million in damages to Louis Vuitton and other French luxury groups for letting fake copies of their goods be auctioned on its website.
Louis Vuitton Malletier, the handbag and luggage section of the LVMH group, and Christian Dior Couture are seeking EUR 20 million and EUR 17 million respectively for "negligence" on the part of the online auctioneer.
Four perfume subsidiaries of LVMH are between them seeking EUR 14 million for "illicit sales" of their products in the proceedings that began a year and a half ago.
They say eBay knowingly let people use its site to sell fake bags, lipstick, perfumes and clothes from the famous brand names, and that even when authentic goods were on sale this was in violation of their authorised sales networks.
None of the parties to the case would comment when contacted by AFP.
Monday's verdict by a Paris commercial court comes amid a flurry of legal action against the online giant, which claims to have some 84 million active users in 39 markets worldwide.
Earlier in June, eBay was convicted by a French court of selling counterfeit goods and ordered to pay EUR 20,000 in damages to French luxury group Hermes.
The court ruling, which marked a first in France, found eBay directly responsible for the sale on its website of three Hermes bags including two fakes, for a total of EUR 3,000.
France's traditional auctioneers took legal action against the online auctioneer in December, accusing it of encouraging trade in pirated and stolen goods.
The council representing the auction industry also accuses the Internet trader of breaking a French 2000 law that requires all auctioneers to be approved by the state.
And last September, the cosmetics giant L'Oreal launched legal action against eBay in five European countries including France, over the sale of bottles of counterfeit perfume.
The case to be decided on Monday centres on three separate cases that legal authorities decided to deal with simultaneously given the similarities between them.
In the first two, Louis Vuitton Malletier and Christian Dior Couture sued eBay for "culpable negligence".
They said eBay was responsible for the sale of counterfeit copies of their goods on its site because it had not done enough to prevent such sales.
The perfume brands Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy and Kenzo meanwhile believe that even when eBay sells their authentic products, it is doing so illegally because the companies only permit their goods to be sold through specialist dealers.
According to eBay the total value of items sold on its trading platforms in 2007 was nearly USD 60 billion.
[AFP / Expatica]