Selling Counterfeits Online? Think Twice

Originally posted 2018-11-19 11:21:44

By Diana Chan |


In 2005, LVMH, a conglomerate that owns Louis Vuitton, Céline, Marc Jacobs, Möet & Chandon, Dom Pérignon, and several other luxury brands, brought an action in French court against Google for trademark infringement. Now, after a 10-year legal dispute, LVMH and Google have come to a settlement agreement and have decided to join together to fight the advertising and promotion of counterfeit products.

Google sells protected words as keywords to companies. If a person inputs these keywords in a search, the search will produce advertisements that appear with the rest of the results.  The problem for LVMH was that counterfeiters were purchasing keywords which produced search results that included advertisements to “fake” websites that sold counterfeit handbags.

Google currently has a system that filters advertisements that might infringe a copyright, but can only remove illegal links if a company flags it.  Over the past few years, Google has shut down over 500 million ad links that contain possible copyright and trademarks infringement.

The counterfeiting business is enormous and has expanded exponentially. Fake products are manufactured quickly, and the Internet has created an easy way for counterfeiters to pass off counterfeits as high-end products. Countries like the United States have enforcement mechanisms to prevent counterfeit goods from entering the market. However, since there are so many products, being able to identify all counterfeits is nearly impossible. In the U.S., it is estimated that Customs and Border Patrol seizes only a tenth of one percent of total imports. Most counterfeits seized are from China or Hong Kong.

Seeing LVMH and Google reach an agreement is a step in the right direction. The question going forward will be how LVMH and Google plan to work together to tackle the problem of illegal websites that sell counterfeits.


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