French jurisprudence about Google and cybersquatting

By EDRi · March 24, 2005

Search engine Google has lost an appeal on 10 March 2005 against a French
court order to change its advertisement practices. The case about the
advertisement practice was instigated by the travel companies Luteciel
SARL and Viaticum SA. Competitors bought the search terms ‘bourse des
vols’ and ‘bourse des voyages’ (flight exchange and trip exchange) so that
their advertisements would show next to the search results. The two
companies successfully claimed they had exclusive trademark rights on
these terms, and accused Google of something akin to counterfeiting.
Google was ordered to pay 75.000 euro in damages and legal costs in first
instance. In February 2005 Google lost a similar case against the French
luxury goods company Mo√ęt Hennessy – Louis Vuitton. Another search engine,
Yahoo, lost a similar case in January 2005 as well, when the French hotel
chain Accor complained about advertisements from competitors using its
hotel names.

Google is also facing a lawsuit from the French news agency AFP about its
news services. On 19 March AFP filed a complaint at a Washington court
claiming Google violates their copyrights by quoting the headlines,
pictures and opening lines of their articles and claims 13.1 million euro
in damages. On 22 March 2005 Google started to remove all references to
AFP from its news services. According to Steve Langdon, a Google
spokesman, “we allow publishers to opt out of Google News. Most, however,
want to be included in Google News because they believe it’s a benefit to
them and their readers.” It is unclear if this means AFP will withdraw the
case.

In another French ruling about Internet the court of Nanterre decided on
14 March 2005 that a seamstress in Southeast France must hand over the
domain www.milka.fr to U.S. food company Kraft Foods, vendor of chocolate
with the brand name Milka. The seamstress, Milka Budimir, was accused of
cybersquatting and can no longer use her own first name on the Internet,
since “the brand name existed long before she was born”.

Google France loses appeal in AdWords trademark dispute (17.03.2005)
http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/03/17/HNgooglefranceadwords_1.html

Complaint filed against Google by AFP (in English, 19.03.2005)
http://www.resourceshelf.com/legaldocs/afpvgoogle1.pdf

L’affaire Milka.fr couronne le droit des marques (15.03.2005)
http://www.rfi.fr/actufr/articles/063/article_34790.asp