As pervasive and seemingly unstoppable as brand counterfeiting is, defending intellectual property is still a necessary component to preservation and growth of value. IP owners continue to chip away, as seen by these two developments:
A Canadian court has awarded Louis Vuitton and Burberry $1.5M and $1.14M (US) in damages in the largest such award in Canadian history. The losers? Singga Enterprises Inc. and Carnation Fashion Company have reportedly been selling fake handbags for nearly three years.
And, this week the European Court of Justice said the operators of online marketplaces are not exempt from liability if they have “knowledge of, or control over, information about items for sale on their websites.” This particular clarification involved eBay and L’Oreal, and the potential infringements include eBay users selling samples of L’Oreal perfumes and cosmetics that are intended for free distribution and selling L’Oreal products in Europe that were designed for sale only outside of Europe; however, the decision builds (or adds to) a new line of defense against traditional counterfeiters.
(Consistent with what U.S. courts are generally saying, the European decision stated that things are different with trademarks: internet marketplace operators cannot be held liable for secondary infringement of a trademark if they merely enable advertisers to display signs corresponding to trademarks on its website.)