It seems LVMH just doesn’t want to stay out of the headlines. But, like the Hermès/LVMH dispute, the dispute between LVMH and Google was settled amicably.
The luxury conglomerate released a statement on Thursday stating it was ending its legal dispute against Google and that the two parties signed an agreement committing to jointly “tackle the advertising and sale of counterfeit goods online.”
This settlement stems from a dispute that began in 2003 when LVMH sued Google in France over Internet searches linked to specific trademarked names. LVMH claimed that Google searches produced links to websites that sold counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Dior products.
LVMH had filed suit, arguing that Google should be held liable because advertisers were able to buy keywords that corresponded with trademarks, thus allowing this advertisers to trade on the goodwill of the trademark, such as Louis Vuitton or Dior.
The case was referred to the Paris Court of Appeals to decide if Google was liable for the detriment and damage caused to LVMH’s business. The Paris Central Court then ordered Google to pay LVMH 300,000 euros in damages for infringement.
Counterfeit products have always been a major issue for fashion brands to deal with, but as the world has moved into a more digital space, counterfeit products are no longer poorly made knockoffs you purchase on Canal Street or Santee Alley. With an easy Google search, anyone can find a Dior handbag for a fraction of the retail price. Counterfeit products being so readily available these days can hurt a brand’s value because having a large amount of counterfeit, cheap, knockoffs on the market can cheapen a brand.
As such, this new alliance between a luxury giant and the veritable king of online search engines could point to a future where counterfeiters don’t have as much power and more importantly anonymity when producing and selling their goods. Especially because LVMH recently settled a similar dispute with eBay, where both parties agreed to work together on hindering the sale of counterfeit goods. And, Chinese online retail giant, Alibaba, brokered a similar agreement with Google.
It seems that the tools that counterfeiters use to build their business are moving from the more traditional excuse of “we can’t control them, so we’re not liable” to a more understanding of how much counterfeits really affect and hurt a brand and realizing that they are a vehicle for this. Hopefully, this continued understanding between fashion brands and tech companies will help to minimize the prevalence of counterfeit products on the market.
source: “LVMH, Google Settle Dispute,” Women’s Wear Daily.
photo: “Night Ekaterinburg Louis Vuitton” by Владислав Фальшивомонетчик