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Louis Vuitton Malletier wins lawsuit against Web Host
02
Sep '09
Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. (“Louis Vuitton”) part of LVMH, the world's leading luxury group, announced that it has won the lawsuit it filed in 2007 against the California based Internet hosting business of Akanoc Solutions, Inc., Managed Solutions Group, Inc., and Steven Chen (the “Akanoc Defendants”) in the United States District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose). On August 28th, the jury found the Akanoc Defendants liable for contributory trademark and copyright infringement, and awarded statutory damages in the amount of $32,400,000.00. The court is expected shortly to issue a permanent injunction banning the Akanoc Defendants from hosting websites that sell counterfeit or infringing Louis Vuitton goods.

Nathalie Moullé-Berteaux, Intellectual Property Director of Louis Vuitton, said, “We are very pleased that the jury recognized the Akanoc Defendants' contributory liability. This decision is another important step towards reducing the illegal activity of websites selling counterfeit merchandise and enforcing the rule of law on the Internet. The Akanoc Defendants' specific business model of providing unmanaged server capacity to web hosting resellers does not exempt them from taking active steps to effectively prevent infringing activity upon notification from an intellectual property rights owner. This case is a particularly important one in that it involves the successful application on the Internet of the theory of contributory liability—those who know or should have known that the business operations, for which they provide venues are conducting illegal activities, have an obligation to ensure those business operations are legal.

“The size of this award should make it clear to all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that they cannot act, or fail to act, with impunity when a trademark owner provides notice that websites hosted by the ISP are selling counterfeit goods. We believe the size of the damages awarded should serve as a deterrent to other ISPs who may consider ignoring counterfeit trade on the websites they host. Louis Vuitton will continue its fight throughout the world—concrete and virtual— to protect its brand and customers against counterfeiting.”

Andy Coombs, Louis Vuitton's counsel, said, “This verdict clearly establishes a standard for infringement complaints on the Internet based on trademark. It represents a positive contribution to existing case law and marks the first time statutory damages have been awarded against those found contributorily liable for trademark infringement. The standard applied to copyright infringement claims must also be applied to trademark infringement claims. The jury recognized that having an appropriate use policy is not sufficient. Internet Service Providers have an obligation to effectively enforce that policy as well."

The world leader in luxury, Louis Vuitton has been synonymous with the art of stylish travel since 1854. Since 1987, it has been part of LVMH/Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world's most prestigious luxury goods group headed by Bernard Arnault.




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