Google France SARL v. Louis Vuitton Malletier SA

[2010] E.T.M.R. 30, Case C-236/08, Case C-237/08, Case C-238/08 (2010)

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Google France SARL v. Louis Vuitton Malletier SA

European Union Court of Justice
[2010] E.T.M.R. 30, Case C-236/08, Case C-237/08, Case C-238/08 (2010)

Facts

Google France SARL (Google) (defendant), an internet search engine, offered a paid service called AdWords, which allowed entities to pin advertisements for their websites to searchable keywords. The AdWords service operated via an automated process: an entity would select its desired keywords, devise a short commercial message to comprise the content of the ad, and attach a link to its website. Then, when a Google user searched for any of those keywords, the ad would appear alongside the user’s natural search results. Google allowed advertisers to select trademarks as keywords. Louis Vuitton Malletier SA (LV) (plaintiff), a purveyor of luxury leather goods, owned the French trademark for the words Louis Vuitton, the initials LV, and the European Union (EU) community trademark for the word Vuitton. In 2003, LV learned that Google, through AdWords, was displaying ads for sites offering knockoffs of its goods: Google allowed advertisers to select LV’s trademarks as keywords and also to select those words in combination with the terms “imitation” and “copy.” LV sued Google in France for trademark infringement. In 2005, Google was found guilty of infringement by the Paris Regional Court. That court’s judgment was upheld by the court of appeal. Google appealed the second judgment to the France Court of Cassation, which stayed proceedings to seek guidance from the EU Court of Justice in the form of a preliminary ruling.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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