Page last updated at 10:54 GMT, Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Google in court over Vuitton row

LVMH & Google
Google insists it respects trademarks

Lawyers for Google are to appear in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in a row over its use of trademarks.

LVMH, the company behind Louis Vuitton luggage and other brands, has accused Google of selling search words such as "vuitton" to the highest bidder.

Web users searching for its products will see adverts for rivals or firms selling counterfeit goods, LVMH argues.

Google - which says it does respect trademarks - appealed after a lower French court ruled against it.

The case was then referred to the ECJ in Luxembourg by France's Supreme Court

No outcome is expected for several months.

Trademark case

This case comes as criticism grows about the dominance of Google, says BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.

"Some comes from rivals like Microsoft - but there's also concern from media firms and from privacy campaigners about a firm which has a huge share of online advertising, and knows an awful lot about millions of web users."

In 2005, Google lost an appeal against a court ruling over trademark infringement brought about by two French travel companies.

A lawsuit was filed after Google users searching for the two French companies - Luteciel and Viaticum - found themselves directed instead to rival sponsored links.

Google's failure to follow an order quickly enough triggered a 75,000-euro fine.

LVMH has been active in efforts to protect its brand online.

In June last year, a French court ordered auction site eBay to pay 40m euros to LVMH for allowing online auctions of fake copies of its goods.

LVMH had said eBay's French site had not done enough to stop the sale of counterfeit bags and perfumes, under brands including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Givenchy.

An earlier version of this story suggested that Google had taken its case straight to the ECJ. In fact it appealed to the French Court of Cassation, France's supreme court, which then referred it to the ECJ. The earlier story also said the ECJ was in Brussels, rather than Luxembourg.

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