The latest lamb to the Louis Vuitton legal slaughter? Google.
The high-end lifestyle company is upset with the Internet god’s display of Google ads from retailers selling knock-off Louis’, reports British Vogue‘s website. LV’s taken their claim to the European Court of Justice (the company is headquartered in Paris), where the company is fighting to control what comes up when Webbies google their brand.
At the heart of the conflict is Google’s sponsored link section, which lists advertisements of products related to your google search. Louis Vuitton argues that their brand’s name should not be allowed to be used in ads that are not generated by their company.
"Google’s advertisement activities have given companies which sell fake products unprecedented visibility beyond their wildest dreams," Louis Vuitton lawyer Patrice de Cande told the court, Bloomberg reported.
Google argued that they make money "not by reason of the nature of the keyword, but by someone clicking on the keyword," said the company’s lawyer Alexandra Neri. "The decision to click or not to click belongs to whom? Clearly to the Internet user."
Google’s defensive strategy seems to place blame on consumers of counterfeit merch, not on the search engine that enables the sale.
The company also released an official statement. "We are pleased that the European Court of Justice has arranged to hear important issues about Google’s AdWords service much sooner than some observers expected. AdWords helps users find the information they are looking for and provides advertisers with an efficient way to reach their audiences. Google believes that it has not infringed the claimants’ trademark rights and we look forward to the outcome of the cases."
In the past, LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton, has brought copyright infringement litigation against record labels like Bad Boy and Sony BMG. In those cases, the defending companies were ordered to discontinue the illegal activity and pay damages to the company. It’ll be interesting to see the luxury goods brand go against the humongously powerful and influential Google.
Stay tuned as the case is slated to continue through 2010.
– Whitney Teal