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France appeals court upholds judgment against eBay but reduces damages

The Paris Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a 2008 judgment against the online auction house eBay [corporate website] for its role in the sale of counterfeit goods but significantly reduced the amount of damages eBay has to pay. The appeals court cut the damages [AP report] to be paid to French luxury goods giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) [corporate website] from 38 million euros (USD $49 million) to 5.7 million euros (USD $7.3 million). The original judgment against eBay [JURIST report] found that the website failed to prevent the sale of counterfeit luxury goods that infringed on registered designs. It established [press release] that in France, eBay is liable for the sale of counterfeit goods or goods that are selected for special distribution. The court dismissed eBay's claim that it was just a mere host for selling services. Both sides are claiming the appeals court ruling a victory. LVMH is pleased that the judgment was not overturned, while eBay is claiming it as a win for it and the French consumers since the damages were so drastically reduced.

US court rulings in online copyright infringement cases have been in stark contrast to those in Europe. In April, a federal appeals court ruled [JURIST report] that eBay is not required to actively monitor its website for the sale of counterfeit goods. In a separate case by LVHM against eBay in February, the Paris District Court [official website, in French] ordered [JURIST report] eBay to pay LVHM 200,000 euros (USD $275,000) in damages for paying search engines to direct customers to counterfeit LVMH products. In a separate case in September, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] issued an advisory opinion against LVMH [JURIST report] in its suit to collect damages from Google for Google's AdWords system, which allows companies and individuals to purchase advertising space when a user searches for a product or brand name.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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