June 28, 2006 4:42 PM PDT

Google loses French trademark lawsuit

A French court of appeals on Wednesday affirmed a lower court ruling that Google infringed on Louis Vuitton's trademark by selling search-related keyword advertising to competitors of the fashion company, Louis Vuitton said.

The Paris Court of Appeals ordered Google and its French subsidiary to pay $376,589 (300,000 euros) in damages for trademark counterfeiting, unfair competition and misleading advertising, a public relations company for the fashion company said.

Google is barred from using Louis Vuitton's trademarks in its advertising on all of its Web sites accessible from France, and Google was ordered to pay Louis Vuitton $94,139 (75,000 euros) in legal expenses and to publish the ruling in four news magazines and an online site, the statement said.

"This is an old Adwords case--and none of the issues apply today," a Google representative said in a prepared statement. "We have a trademark policy, which prevents bids on other people's registered trademarks, and we do not allow people to advertise with AdWords for counterfeit products. Today's case does not raise any new issues whatsoever."

In February 2005, the Paris District Court ruled against Google and ordered the search company to pay Louis Vuitton 200,000 euros. Louis Vuitton filed its suit in early 2004.

That ruling came shortly after another French court ordered Google to refrain form using the trademarks of a European resort chain, Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts, to trigger keyword ads.

Google has also faced lawsuits in the United States. Earlier this year, the parent company of a payday loan provider, Check 'n Go, sued Google in federal court in Ohio, saying that the search engine permits other payday lenders to purchase ads that would appear when the trademarked phrase "check n go" is searched.

The company settled a case last September brought by auto insurance provider Geico, and still faces a lawsuit brought by American Blind and Wallpaper Factory.

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