Currently viewing the tag: "C‑324/09"

Today, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has published the final decision in Case C‑324/09 (L’Oréal SA et al. vs. eBay International AG et al.).

From the Court decision we learn that L’Oréal is a manufacturer and supplier of perfumes, cosmetics and hair-care products. In the United Kingdom it is the proprietor of a number of national trade marks. It is also the proprietor of Community trade marks. L’Oréal operates a closed selective distribution network, in which authorised distributors are restrained from supplying products to other distributors.

Furthermore, eBay operates an electronic marketplace on which are displayed listings of goods offered for sale by persons who have registered for that purpose with eBay and have created a seller’s account with it. eBay charges a percentage fee on completed transactions. eBay enables prospective buyers to bid for items offered by sellers. It also allows items to be sold without an auction, and thus for a fixed price, by means of a system known as ‘Buy It Now’. Sellers can also set up online shops on eBay sites. An online shop lists all the items offered for sale by one seller at a given time. Sellers and buyers must accept eBay’s online-market user agreement. One of the terms of that agreement is a prohibition on selling counterfeit items and on infringing trade marks. In some cases eBay assists sellers in order to enhance their offers for sale, to set up online shops, to promote and increase their sales. It also advertises some of the products sold on its marketplace using search engine operators such as Google to trigger the display of advertisements.

According to the factual section of the Court decision, starting point was that on 22 May 2007, L’Oréal sent eBay a letter expressing its concerns about the widespread incidence of transactions infringing its intellectual property rights on eBay’s European websites. L’Oréal was not satisfied with the response it received and brought actions against eBay in various Member States, including an action before the High Court of Justice (England & Wales), Chancery Division.

L’Oréal’s action before the High Court of Justice sought a ruling, first, that eBay and the individual defendants are liable for sales of 17 items made by those individuals through the website, L’Oréal claiming that those sales infringed the rights conferred on it by, inter alia, the figurative Community trade mark including the words ‘Amor Amor’ and the national word mark ‘Lancôme’. The Court decision confirmed that it was common ground between L’Oréal and eBay that two of those 17 items are counterfeits of goods bearing L’Oréal trade marks.

The Court (Grand Chamber) today ruled:

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