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Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. Akanoc Solutions, Inc.

658 F.3d 936 (2011)

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Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. Akanoc Solutions, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

658 F.3d 936 (2011)

Facts

Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. (Vuitton) (plaintiff) was the exclusive United States distributor of luxury goods bearing its own trademarks. Vuitton discovered that websites based in China were selling goods that infringed on Vuitton’s trademarks. These websites were hosted by Akanoc Solutions, Inc. (Akanoc) (defendant) and Managed Solutions Group, Inc. (MSG) (defendant); both companies were owned by Steven Chen (defendant). MSG owned and leased the hardware used by Akanoc and Chen. Akanoc operated the servers and leased packages to its customers to operate websites, including the websites based in China that directly infringed on Vuitton’s trademarks. Vuitton sent at least 18 notices of trademark infringement to Akanoc, MSG, and Chen, demanding the removal of the infringing content by the websites themselves or by the web-hosting companies. Vuitton received no response, and the websites continued to operate using the web-hosting companies. Vuitton brought suit against Akanoc, MSG, and Chen, alleging contributory trademark infringement in violation of the Lanham Act. Vuitton argued that the web-hosting companies and Chen had actual knowledge of the websites’ infringing activities, avoided learning about the infringement, disregarded Vuitton’s notices of infringement, and knowingly enabled the infringing conduct. The jury returned a verdict for Vuitton and held Akanoc, MSG, and Chen liable for contributory trademark infringement. The district court upheld the verdict as to Akanoc and Chen, but discarded the verdict as to MSG. The parties appealed the district court’s rulings on contributory trademark infringement.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gould, J.)

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